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.

War Ready: The Robotic Tale Of Pacific Rim

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, friends and readers.  This month at your local cinema, the second film in the Pacific Rim series called “Pacific Rim Uprising” will be released and once more has giant robots taking on Kaiju in order to save the world from destruction.  This film series is a part of the Legendary Pictures Monsterverse world, making these characters in the same world as King Kong and Godzilla! This update will be a quick one and will just add to the excitement of the film’s release. So let’s climb into this giant robot made out of old metal mop buckets and Campbell soup cans and get war ready to fight the giant Kaiju and save this blog from their invasion.

So before we dive too deep into the world of fighting giant monsters with giant robots, we should first take a look at the first film that not only inspired the sequel now in theaters but also the comic mini series that we will be reviewing today. I will be taking the movie’s plot from the good folks at IMDB, and after, I will give my thoughts about seeing the film in the theater and the impact it has had on my friend Jeremy Hoyt!

Pacific Rim (2013)

“When monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes – a washed up former pilot and an untested trainee  – who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.”

When this movie’s trailer first appeared at the theaters and on the internet, I was pretty hyped for it as I love giant monster movies and wanted to see what this film had to offer in the way of destruction and creature designs. And while I enjoy giant robots, I am not a fanatic about them nor am I a super fan of the film work of Guillermo del Toro who I find good but not fantastic like many of my friends do. I went into the theater with an open mind, armed with a blue ICEE and a medium popcorn, and was ready to watch giant robots fight giant monsters alongside my pal Josh Weinberg. After watching the movie, I can remember both Josh and I just thinking that the movie was entertaining but nothing too special. I really did enjoy the look of the Kaiju, and the look of the giant robots were very well done.  What I didn’t enjoy is all the drawn out human aspects of the film that were laced with what I call Independence Day speeches given by characters to unify the troops. While I enjoyed the first film, I was in no way a super fan and am looking forward to checking out the sequel at my local theater. On the other side of things, my pal Jeremy Hoyt loved the movie and enjoyed every second of it. I must also say that some of his favorite comics and cartoons in the world are Transformers so I think he just really likes giant robots! Like all good movies, lots of merchandise was released for fans of this film, including the soundtrack, comics, novel, toys, shirts and posters. Personally, the only merch I got was the movie on DVD and the comics. So while I enjoyed Pacific Rim and the world it created, I would by no means say that I am a mega fan but am looking forward to the sequel.

The major threat of this film series are the Kaiju, who are engineered by beings from another universe and are sent to Earth via a portal with the sole goal of killing all of humankind. So in other words, these giant monsters were created to be a biological weapon to use against the enemies of their creators. There are all types of Kaiju, all with different appearances, powers, and strength, and each are major threats in their own ways. Some of the different Kaiju include Knifehead, Onibaba and Hammerjaw, to name a few. These monsters use their giant size and powers to destroy any thing or robot that gets in their way. But they can be stopped by the Jaeger, who are the giant robots controlled by two human pilots that are Earth’s only hope of survival. While it’s not been made official (and this is just a theory and wild guess by me), I think soon you will see the Pacific Rim Kaiju and Jaeger mixed into the world of Godzilla and King Kong that Legendary Pictures has established. So as you can see, the Kaiju are very dangerous and very much your typical giant monsters that are infused with powers thanks to science. Below are some pictures of some of the Kaiju from Pacific Rim, so check them out.

So as you can see these Kaiju are a force to be reckoned with and thank the heavens that for the Pan Pacific Defense Corps and their Jaeger drivers for keeping the world safe from these threats. But now we are at the point of this review where we will be looking at the comic books, and I chose Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift for my reviews.  While a graphic novel based on Pacific Rim was released in 2013 called Pacific Rim: Tales From The Year Zero years before Tales From The Drift, I wanted to read a mini series of floppy issues and not a GN. I want to thank Mavericks and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock, and weirdly enough I’ve had most of this mini series for years and just now have sat down and read them.  Here is to hoping it’s a solid and fun read! I want to also 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 with that, it’s time to witness the Tales From The Drift!

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 1  **
Released in 2015     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 1 of 4

Duc and Kaorl are a husband and wife that control the Jaeger known as Tacit Ronin. During a fight with a massive Kaiju, they are injured when the beast continues his attack. We flashback to when Duc and Kaorl first meet when Duc manned a helicopter that saved a sub that Kaorl was in that was gathering data on the breach line that the Kaiju use to enter our world. When we cut back to modern times, Duc and Kaorl are injured, and their robot is being filled with radioactive gas. Their Jaeger Tacit Ronin is being dragged into the breach line, and they are clearly loosing the battle and their lives if they do not get help!

This first issue is a mix of drama, action, horror and romance as we follow a husband and wife team who are in the battle for their lives against a massive Kaiju, who is brutal in his attack. As our main characters are being beaten up, they have a flashback to what looks like their first meeting that lead to their romantic link. Our heroes Duc and Kaorl are likable based on what little we know about them as they both love their jobs, they both would risk their lives to finish their jobs and they seem to really love each other even if their first meeting went bad. The Jaeger they power, Tacit Ronin, seems like a powerful machine but to be honest, it gets taken down and beat up pretty easily and it almost seems like they should not have been sent in to fight the monster alone. The Kaiju himself is big, mean, filled with hate and does what he was created to do, smashes and tries to kill what ever gets in his way. This issue is very thin plotted, and the story is a little all over the place as we go from modern to flashback to modern to flashback and so on with no clear reason or explanation. The characters seem like wooden generic action characters that say silly lines to each other and have over all bland personalities. The battle between Jaeger and Kaiju is one sided and makes our heroes seem like failed fools as they seem lost for the most part on how to repower the robot and get the toxic gas out of their area. Now I know it sounds like I didn’t like this first issue, but I did enjoy it as it had good art from Marcelo Maiolo, who has a very modern independent comic style. The cover is also well done and very eye catching for fans of the film, and seeing a giant robot fight a giant monster is still cool no matter how one sided the fight is. Over all, this is a middle of the road comic that is not terrible and is not amazing.

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 2  **
Released in 2015     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 2 of 4

Duc and Kaorl are in serious trouble as they are slowing losing energy from the gas that has filled their control room, and the Jaeger they command Tacit Ronin is taken a beating. The pair drift in and out of consciousness as they flashback to being forced to act as a team in order to fight the giant Kaiju that threaten the world, and how at first they could not stand even being around each other but they ended up coming to respect each other. Back in current times, the Jaeger Coyote Tango comes to their aid so they can retreat and get out of Tacit Ronin as soon as possible so they do not die from the gas. But when Coyote Tango starts to lose the fight with the Kaiju, Duc and Kaorl use all the strength they can in order to attack the Kaiju with one massive blow. But this act of heroism leaves Duc passed out and possibly dead!

This second issue has our heroes at death’s door from not only the Kaiju’s attack but also because the toxic gas is zapping them of life! The plot in this issue is paper thin and has our heroes getting their butts kicked and thinking back to them being brought together to be a team and then risking their own lives in order to help their fellow Jaeger drivers. Duc and Kaorl in this issue are pretty much still cool characters who lack an real depth besides the fact that now they care for each other but in the past they did not. The Kaiju is doing what he does best, trying to kill and destroy,  is just like the last issue. Coyote Tango is there to help, but we really know nothing about him nor do we even get to see who his controllers are. This second issue, while entertaining, is very weak on story and delivers nothing really new to the story as most of this just feels like rehashed plots from issue one just spiced up a little with different situations. The cover for this issue I feel is a little weak and does not really deliver in the eye catching department and the interior art by Marcos Marz seems just slightly more sloppy and rushed in this issue. Over all there’s not much to talk about as this second issue just kind of putts along and delivers another middle of the road comic issue in this mini series.

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 3  **
Released in 2016     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 3 of 4

Duc and Kaorl have survived the battle, but their powerful blow to the Kaiju has left both Jaegers, the Coyote Tango and Tacit Ronin, down for repairs. While recovering in the hospital, the husband and wife team are told by Captain Stacker Pentecost that they have been discharged from the Pan Pacific Defense Corps as going back in to control a Jaeger would overload their brains and kill them. As Kaorl and Duc try and deal with early retirement, a massive Kaiju starts to attack and destroys the only ready Jaeger, Victory Alpha, with ease. With many of lives of innocent people in the balance, Stacker must reinstate Duc and Kaorl who have volunteered to put their lives on the line in order to wait for back up from Japan to save the lives of many.

This third issue sets up that our heroes Duc and Kaorl all in one day are forced into retirement due to injury that would leave them dead if they try and pilot a Jaeger to, by the end, forcing their old boss to put them back on duty in order to save innocent lives that are now in danger because of a Kaiju attack. The story in this issue is a little better as it gives our heroes a real time to shine as they would rather die themselves than to stand by and do nothing as people die around them. It’s very weird because while they have not flushed out really real personality for Duc and Kaorl, as a reader, I have found myself cheering for them in every issue! Captain Stacker Pentecost is a man with lots of pride and hates the fact that he had to discharge his friends and later has to risk their lives in order for them all to do their jobs. Victory Alpha, the only Jaeger in the area and the only hope for the people around, is truly outclassed as the monster smashes him to bits. A team of a brother and sister are controlling him, and they do manage to escape the robot before it’s smashed! The Kaiju in this issue is called Ragnarok, and he is one bad monster who has multiple arms and is ready to smash and kill anyone that gets in his way. Nice to see that the plot for this third issue at least thickened and seemed to have gone somewhere different and, as I stated before, gave the main characters a little more personality. The cover for this issue is kind of bland and reminds me of some lame space romance title Image Comics would have released. The interior art once more is done by Marcos Marz and is good with once more a few panel and pages seeming a little rushed. Over all this was once more a middle of the road issue in this comic mini series that is nothing too special.

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 4  *1/2
Released in 2016     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 4 of 4

Duc and Kaorl enter Tacit Ronin and go out to face Ragnarok, who is also ready for another battle. Our heroes give it everything they have and battle the giant beast pushing it back to the water and away from the city all the while hammering and cutting the giant monster trying to slow him down. But sadly as they fight the monster, they themselves are taking massive damage and are slowly killing themselves. As they get weaker, they know they have to kill the monster and do just that by cutting him in half, but this brave act also leaves them dead and the world lost some true unselfish heroes. Our tale ends with the pair being buried, and the world knowing what they did for them.

This last issue is just one massive battle issue that has lots of splash panels and fight scenes that are chaotic, and at times you are not so sure what you’re looking at. This final issue’s plot has our heroes going into war one last time and giving their lives in order to save others. I have to say this because it’s really how I feel, Tales From The Drift could have been wrapped up nicely in two issues but seems to have been dragged out so that Legendary Comics could get enough pages in order to do a graphic novel as this mini series plot was super thin and lots of pages seemed to be taken up with filler and plot elements that went nowhere with the flashbacks being the worst for this. Duc and Kaorl are cool character who were great heroes in the story, and while likable, they sadly fell into being generic style science fiction heroes.  While they died heroes, they were just not written well over all. The Jaegers felt like after thoughts in this series with all of them until the last fight getting their butts kicked and all seeming like they would never have stood a chance against the monsters. Another thing I hate to say is while Ragnarok was a powerful Kaiju, his look was super cheesy and reminded me of a Power Ranger baddie. The cover on this issue is pretty cool and looks more like two astronauts looking into the face of Satan in Hell than a moment from Pacific Rim. Marcos Marz’s art in this issue is kind of bland and was nothing special, and while some might think it’s good, it’s definitely not a style I can say I really like. Over all as a long time comic reader who really enjoys comics based on films, I have to say that Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift was nothing special and was kind of a drawn out bland generic story that was made in order to cash in on the film’s fans and to get a graphic novel in comic and book stores. While I didn’t hate this mini series, I can’t say I was a fan and would only suggest it to diehard fans of Pacific Rim. Check out the artwork below to see the style of Marcos Marz, and see what you think of his work.

While I feel that this comic mini series does fit well into the movie universe that Pacific Rim has created for itself, I found these comic issues to be very slow and have a lackluster plot. But while this comic series was not all that great, I am still very much looking forward to seeing Pacific Rim Uprising at my local cinema. It’s time to leave the Jaegers and Kaiju behind as our next update will be another in my “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” series and will feature the newly released comic based on the 1990 film Ghoul School that was released by Seduction Cinema Comics under their new branch called Camp Comix! I am very much looking forward to this update as I have always enjoyed this sadly mostly forgotten shot on video gem! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time as the bell is ringing and Ghoul School will be in session!

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!

 

January The 13th: The Muppets Take Manhattan

In 1989, hockey masked killer Jason Voorhees, aboard a cruise ship filled with high school seniors, slashed his way into Manhattan, New York and took that city by brutal storm. But just five years before, in 1984, a band of goofy stage performs took it by laughter and cheer.  This band was lead by a noble green man named Kermit The Frog and his friends are The Muppets, and yes, they as well took Manhattan! This film and its STAR Comic mini series adaptation are the topic of this second update of 2018…wow, we are in 2018 and this is amazing as 2017 seemed to fly by. But let’s not focus on that; let’s focus on the third Muppet movie that starred Kermit and the gang getting into a fun and wacky adventure. Like many kids my age, growing up I loved The Muppets and saw this movie a tons of time as it played on HBO when I was a kid. I even taped it off TV on Beta when I was younger. My gal Juliet also loves The Muppets, and I almost had her do this update but decided that I also had some things to say about this movie! So let’s travel to New York with our pal Kermit and see why he and his pals decided to take Manhattan.

The Muppet Show was created by Jim Henson and was a variety show that aired on ABC from 1976-1981.  My brother Bryan and I used to watch it in reruns as even our Dad was entertained by these colorful puppets who had great personalities and added humor by interacting with their celebrity guests. Kermit The Frog was the head of this rag tag group of performers that had the likes of Fozzie Bear a terrible stand up comic, Miss Piggy a diva actress and singer, Gonzo a weird big nosed guy who would do stunts and Rowlf The Dog who played the piano and sang, to name a few. Amazing guest stars like Alice Cooper, Vincent Price and Mark Hamill added to the enjoyment of this program that would go on to spawn movies, comic books, video games, novels, cartoons and toys, and this is why Disney ended up buying Jim Henson Productions and continues to make Muppet stuff for fans to enjoy. Now I could really get into the history of The Muppets and their creation and such, but I would rather save that for another update that possibly Juliet will handle.  So our main focus for this update is the third movie adventure they had. But to sum it up, growing up I was a big fan of The Muppets and watched the show in reruns, loved the cartoon Muppet Babies and enjoyed the heck out of the movies over the years….so in other words, The Muppets Rule!

Growing up I was lucky that my Mom would buy me lots of toys from stores like Hearts, Hills and Gold Circle and would find also lots of great toys at garage sales.  Besides The Muppet Babies figures that were in Happy Meals from McDonalds, I had the cool Fisher Price figures called “The Muppet Show Players” that they released in 1978 with a total of seven figures in the set that included Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Rowlf and Scooter. The figures stood about 3-4” tall and had limited movement and came with a stick that allowed you to clumsily move The Muppet around and make your own plays and shows with them. Now keep in mind that these toys were made a year before I was even born and as a kid, I got some of them from Odd Lots, who had them in stock in the 80’s!! I am not sure if maybe if Fisher Price rereleased them or if a large stock of them was found, but my brother and I had many of them growing up. As I said, our parents got us many from Odd Lots and we also found a few at garage sales. I know I owned Rowlf, Fozzie, Animal and Scooter and remember my brother owning Kermit, Animal and Gonzo, and we both really did enjoy them and kept onto them for many years before we ended up giving them to our cousins when our mom “pushed” us to give many of our toys away to them. But I can remember playing with these toys and having them on the side of the Jedi in the toy wars I used to have when I was a youngster growing up in Waynesville. So did any of you readers grow up having these Muppet Fisher Price toys?

To me, the Muppets are as iconic as Looney Tunes and Disney Cartoon characters and seem to have always been a part of my life from watching them on TV all the way to reading comic book adventures about them and everything in-between! I mean heck, one of the first vinyl records I ever owned was the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie. My favorite Muppet of the main cast of characters was Fozzie The Bear as I found him to be a lovable goofy unfunny comedian who was funny because he was not funny! The other that comes close to Fozzie in my book is Gonzo as I love the fact he is so weird, had a creative mind and his close friends are rats and chickens! But my favorite minor character always has been Sweetums, a large ogre monster who towers over Muppets and humans alike and looks like a mean son of a gun but is a semi nice guy unless he is pushed or you mess with his friends. Sweetums first appeared in the TV Special “The Frog Prince” in 1971 and was a bad guy and son of an evil witch Taminella and would later make appearances on The Muppet Show becoming more of a cast member in season two. He would also go on to be in many of The Muppet movies as well as video games, comics, books and toys throughout the run of the show and beyond. I think I have always liked Sweetums lots because I have been a Monster Kid for as long as I can remember, and he looks like a giant monster that could have been the main baddy in any G rated horror film of the 70’s. Many actors have played the character, but the one who made this giant Muppet suit monster his own was Richard Hunt who played him from 1975 to 1991 and the original suit actor was Jerry Nelson who only played him once in 1971 for his first appearance. So while Fozzie and Gonzo are amazing characters who are my main cast favorites, good old Ogre Sweetums has a special place in my heart as well. Take a look at the pics below to see why this aging Monster Kid dug him.

Growing up I always thought that the monster used as a mascot for Noble Roman’s Pizza in the 80’s was The Muppet Sweetums, and once older, thanks to YouTube, I was able to finally see that he was not indeed pushing cheep greasy pizza to hungry people in the 80’s but instead the pizza place made their own walk around Muppet who very much looked like a knock off of Sweetums complete with his under bite bulldog like jaw! But let’s be honest, I really do like the fact Noble Roman’s Pizza has a mascot, and while he is not as memorable to many fast food junkies as say Ronald McDonald, The Noid or Colonel Sanders that we have covered here on Rotten Ink, he still made his mark for those kids in the 80’s who remember him…plus it appears as if they still somewhat use him but have changed him quit a bit as he no longer has brown fur like Sweetums and now has blue and purple fur much like the My Pet Monster doll! In my youth I can only remember eating Noble Roman’s Pizza less than a handful of times and can remember eating there with my cousins Dino and Norman. I have never been a big pizza eater and can remember not really enjoying my slices of the pie from them. Just wanted to throw this in as I am not sure when in the future I would be talking about Sweetums or the knock off Noble Roman’s Pizza mascot…check out the pics below to see why younger me thought they were one and the same.

So I think we are at the point of this update where we will be taking a look at the movie that spawned this comic adaptation and was a film that my brother Bryan and I watched many times and even owned on VHS for years until I, like a fool, sold all my VHS off to a second hand store that underpaid for them all. But here is what we will do for this quick look at the film, I will take the write up from our pals at IMDB and then will talk a little about watching it for the first time aka what I can remember and then talk about how well it did at the box office and such. I hope you’re ready to talk about some Muppets cause we are about to dive in their world!

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

“The Muppets graduate from college and decide to take their senior revue on the road. They hit the streets of Manhattan trying to sell their show to producers, finally finding one young and idealistic enough to take their show. After several mishaps and much confusion, things begin to come together for them.”

If memory serves me right, I first saw this film on HBO when I was a youngster and my Mom use to hype up all the big kids movies that came to that paid station (that we would have on and off during my youth) to me and my brother who always were so eager to watch movies as we both loved cinema even at a very young age. There was always something very magical about watching a Muppet Movie as they always seemed like events much like many of the film series from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s did.  When a new Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park or Batman film was released, it was a major deal to many of my friends as well as the film going public and for the longest time The Muppet films felt that way! While The Muppets Take Manhattan is a great family film and was one I liked, it never was my favorite Muppet film growing up as I always loved The Great Muppet Caper as that one was just over the top silly and was one I had seen more often on TV and home video. The film was released to theaters on July 13, 1984 and was a hit for Tristar as it brought in $25,534,703.00 at the US box office on a budget of $8 million and came in at # 39 for the year beating out such films as A Nightmare On Elm Street, Sixteen Candles, The Neverending Story, Children Of The Corn, Supergirl, This Is Spianl Tap and Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai to name a few. So as you can see, in the 80’s The Muppets had box office draw and were favorites of kids and the young at heart. One thing I do want to also say is that as I kid I always thought it was amazing that the cast of Sesame Street was in this film as they are guests at a very special wedding that we will talk about in the comic review…I wonder if they will make an appearance in the comic or if they will be cut out due to rights issues?

Now that we have talked about Muppets Take Manhattan as well as about my favorite underrated b-cast Muppet, I think it’s time we dive into the adaptation comic mini series released by Star Comics! It’s been a while since I did an update about a Star Comic, and it feels good doing one based on The Muppets as they are a fun one to talk about! Also this is not the last time I will have an update here at Rotten Ink about them as sometime this year or next my gal Juliet will do a bigger update on The Muppets in general. So before we get started, I need 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, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and making this update possible. So let’s take a trip to New York with Kermit and the rest of The Muppets and see just how they take Manhattan with laughter.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 1  ***
Released in 1984     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 1 of 3

Kermit The Frog as well as his fellow Muppets have just put on a musical show the day the graduated collage and the show is such a hit the crowd and his friends push Kermit to go to New York and try and get it on Broadway! Kermit and friends pack up their stuff and head to New York with fame and stars in their eyes and the first day they go and meet Martin Price who claims to love the show and wants it to go straight to Broadway…but only if Kermit and his friends all pay him $300 a piece! The Muppets know this is wrong and before they can say no the police bust in and try to arrest Price for fraud over the years and this criminal tries to take Gonzo hostage but the blue weirdo is saved by Animal and price is brought to justice. Kermit and pals don’t loose their faith in the show even after day after day and meeting after meeting they get told NO! With no money in their pockets they stop at a diner for some soup and meet the owner, his daughter Jenny and rat waiter Rizzo who all befriend the struggling stage actors and as Kermit gets the soup, Scooter talks the rest of the gang that they should split up and make their own way to impress Kermit and themselves! As his friends all leave New York one at a time Kermit goes to the Empire State Building and looks at the city and gets motivation to get his friends back and his show on Broadway.

This first issue in the adaptation is really well done and captures the mood, music and characters of the film very well. The plot of this first issue has Kermit graduating collage and putting on a great musical show that leaves him being pushed to bring the show to Broadway by the audience and his fellow friends. And once in New York he finds that getting the show on Broadway was way harder than expected and he and his friends sleep in rented lockers and in the end his friends split off from him to get jobs and leave Kermit all alone in the Big Apple. Kermit The Frog is a very creative Muppet who believes in his projects and his friends and is chasing his dreams to be around his friends and entertain the world with his production shows. Kermit is just a great frog who has a heart of gold and makes friends wherever he goes. Scooter is a Muppet who pushes Kermit to do this show and is the goof who tells the other Muppets they should all split up and get normal jobs…what a goon…stand by your friend man if you believe in his art. The rest of The Muppets are around and all have faith in Kermit and don’t want to split away from him but it’s the idea of Scooter that forces them to all walk away, so it’s sad to say but I think Scooter is this issues bad guy next to the con man Martin Price! Jenny and the diner workers are all good people who you know will be playing a bigger part in issue # 2! Very solid issue and a great way to start off this mini series, and I must say the cover is amazing and very eye catching for fans of The Muppets and the interior art it top notch kids comic stuff done by Dean Yeagle and is the style that made me fall in love with Star Comics all those years back in my youth. I can’t wait to see how issue 2 brings the story to life.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 2  ***
Released in 1984      Cover Price .60      Star Comics     # 2 of 3

Kermit is motivated to get his show on Broadway and his friends back in New York and heads to Pete’s Diner and gets a part tome job working in the kitchen as does Rizzo’s fellow rat friends! While Kermit is trying to get his show picked up a weird person in shadow keeps following him! Kermit has Jenny help him by designing cloths that he thinks will make agents pay him more attention and sadly this seems to not help get his show off the ground. The shadow figure following him is Miss Piggy who gets upset when she see’s Jenny hug Kermit and worse when se returns to her job she is fired after getting an extreme make over from her co-worker! Kermit does not give up and this time takes Rizzo and the other rats to a high-end restaurant in order to build up his show but once more he his tossed out and the show is not picked up. After being defeated again Kermit is down in the dumps and runs back into Miss Piggy who has beat up a would be purse snatcher and he gets her a job at Pete’s as a waitress. Good news comes via a letter when Kermit is called to meet a producer who turns out to be the young son of the producer who wants his first project to be Kermit’s musical! Super hyped Kermit calls Jenny at the restaurant and tells her that the show is going to happen and that she can do costumes and to let Piggy know that they are Broadway bound. As Kermit leaves the building to get back to Pete’s he is hit by a car and looses his memory!

Kermit in this issue pushes forward on trying his best to get his show to play in New York as well as get his friends to come back so they can all work together and make something special. Kermit also tries to change who he is in order to get the attention of producers and dresses like a goof and even acts and says things like one. Also Pete’s Diner turns out to be great place for Kermit to work as it puts a little cash in his pocket, is a home base for him as well as he has met lots of new friends. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo as well as the fellow rats are all great people who clearly believe in Kermit and his musical, as they are all willing to help him in his time of need and depression. Miss Piggy while she has walked away from Kermit she still loves him and has stayed in New York in order to keep an eye on him and once they meet back up she ends up working with him at the diner. The young producer is a good kid who clearly has seen the talent and special nature of the Kermit musical and chooses it as his first project even though his father does not share his love for Kermit’s play. This issue is great and builds up more of the will that Kermit has to make his own way and to impress his friends and also delivers us drama in the way of Kermit getting hit by a car and forgetting who he is making the musical’s future in jeopardy. The only down side of this issue is that besides Kermit, Miss Piggy and Rizzo none of the other Muppets make an appearance besides a brief cameo of The Muppet Babies in a two panel flashback and this is a bummer for fans of the other characters. This issue has a good cover and once more fantastic art by Dean Yeagle and is another top notch kids comic adapting a great kids movie. So lets see what issue three the final issue in this mini series has in store for us!

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 3 of 3

Kermit is taken to the hospital after being hit by a car and is a blank slate not even knowing his own name. Meanwhile Miss Piggy, Jenny, Rizzo and Pete are awaiting his return and when hours pass and the producer of the show stops by to say the show starts in 2 weeks they must try and find their missing friend! As they hit the streets looking for him Pete writes telegrams of the good news and The Muppets all come back to town and meet at the diner and all are told of Kermit missing and all hit the streets looking for him and all come up empty handed. Kermit is now going by Phil and is working at an ad firm and just by luck on opening night he and his co-workers stop at Pete’s for lunch and his friends are happy to see him, but he don’t remember them so they kidnap him and take him to the theater to try and jog his mind. After hours of trying they are not able to and the show starts and just before they are to go on without him Kermit laughs at the fact Miss Piggy loves him and she slaps him so hard he hits his head on the wall and snaps back to normal and rushes to get onstage on time for the start of his opening night of his big musical. The show is a hit as the crowd loves it, Kermit has his friends all around him as they do the show and he and Miss Piggy are married live on stage as part of the show and this is how The Muppet Took Manhattan!

The finial issue in this adaptation is just as good as the first two issues and shows just why Star Comics when around was the best kids comic company going, better than Archie and Harvey and all others of that time. The plot of this issue has Kermit with memory loss wondering around New York as Phil as his friends and musical are in need of him. And when all looks lost Kermit remembers who he is and pulls off a massive hit musical and even marries his long time girlfriend Piggy live during the show! I love that Kermit takes on the name Phil and works along side other frogs and creates cheesy ads and slogans for products like soap! I also love as Phil is he kind of rude and laughs in Piggy’s face when she talks of her and Kermit’s plans for marriage…yeah he laughs in her face and gets slapped for his terrible manners! But I love that when he remembers who he is Kermit kicks into creative gear and gets stuff done! Miss Piggy in this issue loves her green skinned man and worries about him missing and does what she can to try and find him, and while she tricks him into marriage she is not nearly as diva acting as she normally is. The rest of The Muppets (Gonzo, Fozzie, Scooter, ect.) are all background players and do what they do well and that’s add fun moments to this comic and story. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo show that they are great friends as they as well get worried about Kermit and do what they can to help find him and make his show a hit. I also love that they did add the Sesame Street characters to the wedding and that through out the issue you get cameos from those cranky old critics Statler And Waldorf who as well add their own brand of humor. The cover of this issue has Miss Piggy and Kermit getting married and is eye catching for fans of The Muppets and once more Dean Yeagle and is great stuff. This three issue mini series is a must read for fans of The Muppets and the film its based on as it is a pure fun all age comic series that is entertaining and just plan fun! I would say that my favorite Character in this mini series is Kermit as how can you not like a guy trying to chase his creative dream and wants to share it with his friends. While my favorite backup character would be Rizzo as who don’t like a rat who waits tables and gets all his other rat friends jobs. So to sum it up make if you dig Kermit and his friends make sure to give this a read. Check out some art from this comic series done by Dean Yeagle below and see just how fun it is.

The Muppets are icons of TV and kid friendly shows, and while they have lost some steam nowadays, they still have a special place in my heart as seeing them they make me think of my youth and all the good times I had with my family watching them on TV and movies. And as I have said, this will not be the last time you will see The Muppets here at Rotten Ink.  Juliet confirmed with me that she will indeed be doing an update about them in the future! For our next update, we will be walking away from New York and The Muppets and head to the world of Horror Hosting and a rundown mansion that is the home of the one and only Ghost Host.  This Maryland Horror Host will be the next Icon we chat about. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update ghost and ghoulies!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Legend Of Diablo

The Aztec culture has contributed many great monsters to films based around their ancient legends and practices including The Aztec Mummy and the evil demon Azar, who is the main movie monster from today’s film and comic, The Legend Of Diablo! In the last 10 years Hollywood has filled the cinemas with films about ghosts and possessions, and independent labels have flooded the DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming market with lower budget films of the same kind filling the horror genre with lots of films that carry a PG-13 rating and deal with the spirits of evil. The Legend Of Diablo is a possession film that pre-dates the big boom and was, instead, riding the coattails of The Exorcist, Stigmata and The Blair Witch Project making it a low budget clone of its own time. Also The Legend Of Diablo shows that no matter how big or small your horror film is, it could be made into a comic book and people will buy it as one things for sure, Horror Comic readers love what they love! So get ready to open the box and free the evil Azar and learn about the film and the comic and enjoy another “From Horror Film To Horror Comic” update.

So let’s take a look at what Azar is and what it’s capable of! Back in the time when the Aztec’s were still sacrificing humans and ruled the land an evil demon was among them that had the ability to raise the dead as well as brainwash the living. It was up to the Aztec Chief to defeat the demon who had claimed many lives and with this defeat he was imprisoned in a box for centuries. When in 2003 he is freed from the box thanks to a noisy researcher, he once more is on the prowl, this time in California, and possesses innocent people and have them kill one another and this is his mission as death and destruction is what it craves. Azar’s main power comes from creating zombies who will do his evil will and allowing his followers to defend him and cause their victims to become slaves as well. He craves human flesh and by consuming it his powers become greater. He also seems to enjoy playing mind games with his intended victims by using possessed loved ones against them as well as speaking to them via their mind. He can also teleport and jump from body to body when needed in order to avoid being defeated. The main body he takes in the film is that of a preacher who was trying to stop him and his spirit form has the view of seeing red. While in his ancient times he looks like a huge demon with horns and even a long sinister tongue. His weakness is the box and artifact that his being was trapped in for years, as he fears being trapped again and loosing his grip on his plan to infest the world with his slaves. He also has an ego and is on a power trip that leaves him open for defeat as spreading his work of possession clouds his judgment to truly win. While only a spirit, his evil body jumping ways makes his a true evil demon who can cause major havoc and destruction to any one and place that he sets his sight on.

So as you can see, Azar is pure evil and if unleashed could easily bring the world as we know it to an end! Plus besides the change in appearance as far as the eyes and voice, the demon Azar could be walking among us. But now that we understand who and what Azar is, I think we now should learn a little about the movie.  As always, the description will be taken from our pals at IMDB and after I will share my memories and thoughts about the movie, so let’s see what this Horror flick is all about.

The Legend Of Diablo (2003)

“The small California town of Diablo is plagued with mysterious deaths after Sheriff Roberts Lopez unearths an ancient box. Legend has it that the box holds the sixteenth-century Mexican demon named Azar.”

This is a movie that I can remember being on the shelves at Blockbuster Video when I worked for them.  It was what was commonly called shelf filler by my manager who would always laugh at the cheesy horror films that filled our new release wall. I never rented The Legend Of Diablo from work which is kind of shocking as I watched all the horror films I could get my hands on.  Plus I have always been into Latina Women and this flick has its share of them. Many years had passed and this film slipped from my mind and I forgot it even was made until one day working at Game Swap in 2017 it crossed my path again when a regular customer named Steve who loves horror films as much as I do thought about buying it but didn’t.  This lead to me seeing that it had a comic based on it and made it a perfect fit for a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update. On a cold February in 2017 via a new DVD I bought for only $1.67 on Amazon. I watched this film for the first time and was amazed at just how low budget yet kind of charming it was, but while charming it is by no means a good. Azar for most of the film is just the POV of the camera with a red filter and when taking over bodies, the effects are nothing more than contacts and make-up and this is slightly disappointing as seeing a creature/demon version would have been pretty cool! The plus to the film was actress Calvi Pabon who played Mary Lopez who dressed in alternative Goth cloths, and this rocked! The film was released on DVD and VHS on March 2, 2004 and was lost in the shuffle for most horror fans as other films released that year were Seed Of Chucky, Dawn Of The Dead, Ginger Snaps 2-3, Tremors 4, Bone Sickness, Dracula 3000 and Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys to name a few and they all gained their cult status over this film. The Legend Of Diablo was directed by Robert Napton and stars Fred Estrada, Lindsey Lofaso, Mario Soto and Calvi Padon all who try their best with what they had to work with and that’s a very small budget with the DVD I have being released by Trinity. Over all this film may not be an amazing piece of horror cinema but no matter how small it still added to the genre as a whole.

So now that we have an understanding of Azar and the film that spawned him, The Legend Of Diablo, I think it’s time to go from the movie to the comic book that was released by Image Comics. The only reason I knew this comic book was made was again thanks to Game Swap and the customer who brought up the DVD that boldly states “based on the popular comic character!” And that sparked a hunt for what comic this film was based on and with the help of Todd The Fox we found it, but only after asking many comic reading friends of mine if they knew like Jason Young and Jeremy Hoyt and none of them knew…so Azar must not have been that popular of a comic character. I want to thank Lone Star Comics for having this issue in stock as that made this update possible. The Aztec spirits are wanting 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, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So beware of the stalking red light that lurks outside as it could be Azar, and let’s dive right into this comic that helped spawn the film or is that they spawned each other!

Knights Of The Jaguar # 1  **
Released in 2004    Cover Price $0.00     Image Comics     # 1 of 1

The year is 1819, and the Aztec’s have called upon their warriors called Knights Of The Jaguar who, when wearing their helmets, become Jaguar men who’s main goal is to fight the evil of demons like Azar who tried to take over their land.  With their tribe’s chief they tried their best to defeat the evil demon and were able to trap him but not fully defeat him. Now in modern times Agent Vega takes the trial of the Jaguar and becomes a modern member of this secret order of warriors and heads to the city of Diablo in order to try and bring the war back to Azar and end his evil ways once and for all.

This short ashcan comic acts as a way to try and explain the legend and lore of Azar and the men who spend their lives trying to stop his evil rampage known as the Knights Of The Jaguar. The plot goes back in time when the Aztec people fought against the demon Azar who would corrupt many and that only brave warriors who would dawn the jaguar helmets are the ones who can save mankind form the evil. We then show modern times and a good Agent takes the trial to become a member of the order of the Jaguar and when he passes, he heads to a town that is rumored to house the spirit of Azar. Really the plot is that faced paced and really just acts as a tool for readers to rent or buy the film The Legend Of Diablo. The downside is besides the fact you know the Knights Of The Jaguar and Agent Vega are good guys and that Azar is an evil demon so you get no real time to bond with the characters or fully get to know them, and that’s the weakness of this comic as you really don’t get to care about any of them! The comic has little amounts of blood and is not really all that scary making it feel like it’s a horror comic that’s spinning its wheels and not living up to the demon possessed comic it could be. The art is pretty good and has a true 90’s feel to it and is done by Mike Choi who does a good job of making the story seem more epic.  The cover is cool but really does not represent the film and the characters in it at all and that’s odd as this comic was meant to be a tool to get readers to become viewers. Over all not much can be said about this comic besides Aazar is evil, the art is good and its way to short for its own good. Fans of the film might want to give this a read as it gives more back history to the demon Azar as well as Agent Vega. Your average horror comic reader who has zero clues that the movie was even made will probably want to stay clear, as it offers nothing for you besides more questions than entertainment. Below is art from this mini comic and shows Azar in all his glory.

So as you can see The Legend Of Diablo might not have set the horror movie world on fire it still got the comic book treatment, and I wish more smaller horror films and companies producing and releasing these films would take note and make comics based on their films as there are readers out there like me. While we leave Azar behind, we are starting our countdown to Halloween with out next update and I feel like we should take a look at another “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” so I decided to take a look at the comic and slasher film The Orphan Killer! What better way to kick off a Halloween countdown than with a gory slasher comic and film…am I right? Well until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a very bloody good time!

American Hero: Fighting American

Happy July 4th! If you’re like me, you can smell the hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and are ready to pig out on that tasty grilled meat as well as loads of potato chips and all types of salads from macaroni to pasta. Like last year I hope I can add a little fun to your holiday by bringing you another “American Hero” update that showcases a comic character that embodies the spirit of America.  This year I decided to choose Fighting American, and out of all the companies that had released adventures based on him, I chose the DC Comics version to review as I feel that this 1994 series was the closest to my youth, and I feel like DC is lacking the love here on my blog so why not give them another holiday update! So sit back with your favorite summer time beverage and spend just a moment of your Independence Day before the fireworks with me here at Rotten Ink, as we are about to get into the world of Fighting American!

When I was a kid, lunch time was always really good in Waynesville Schools as they had amazing cheese pizza that was made even more tasty with salt and even the hamburger with a pickle on it was good. But the one thing I always looked forward to was drinking milk.  From 2% to chocolate milk with my meal, I really enjoyed that as my drink of choice.  In fact, I still love a good tall glass of milk from time to time. One of the cool parts of the milk cartons was seeing Safetypup, a superhero puppy who wore a mask, cape and costume who would give a message of safety to us kids. My brother was the first to tell me about Safetypup as he called him “Superpuppy,” and I can remember he brought home the carton so I could see him! Growing up I have always wondered why they never made a Safetypup comic book, you know, like a promo comic that they could have given away at schools and family events.  Imagine comics where Safetypup could teach us about stranger danger, drugs and Halloween safety! Another thing that would be cool is that Safetypup has a walk around mascot costume, and it would be amazing to have him on an episode of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre teaching kids safety tips alongside BVP! So I just wanna thank Safetypup for making my childhood safe and for all his years of making milk cartons cool in school.

Jack Kirby and Joe Simon were the team that created Captain America for Timely Comics in 1941, and after the company was bought out by Atlas Comics, their character was continued without their permission.  This angered the pair and caused them to create a new American themed character called Fighting American, and in 1954 the first issue came out for Prize Group and lasted a total of 7 issues. The character was created to fight The Communists as at the time the Red Scare was in full effect and the comic reading world needed an outlet to release the fear they felt. The most important thing about Fighting American is that he is, in fact, the first comic hero to tackle the Cold War and was also the first to switch gears and just become a fun superhero comic thats Kirby had fun with. After the character’s seven issue run, he has returned to comics via many different companies like Marvel, DC, Harvey, Awesome and Dynamite! Fighting American is really Nelson Flagg who has his mind and life force placed into the corpse of his brother who was a murdered star athlete and war hero, thanks to the top secret military project dubbed “Project Fighting American” to seek revenge and fight the Red Scare and other costumed baddies. Over his original adventures, he also had a sidekick named Speedboy who is a teenager that worked at the same place as he and his brother. While Fighting American might not be as iconic as Captain America or even as known as The Shield, he still truly is an American Comic Icon that stands for the red, white and blue that we all love here in America. Check out below for three looks at Fighting American over the years in comics from different companies.

So we have taken a look at the history of Fighting American as well as a brief character bio, but for many of you like myself the grill is still going and the fireworks are about to go off, so I think its time we dive into the DC Comic mini series based on this true American comic hero. The sky flowers are wanting 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. I also want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having issues in stock to make this update possible. So if you’re ready let’s grab old glory and head into the battle against those who wish America ill will with the one and only Fighting American.

Fighting American # 1  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 1 of 6

Big Brother is with two of his wrestling federation’s pro wrestlers Bear and Bull watching the madness of the New York stock exchange when Fighting American appears looking for a man named Little Brother.  After making short work of the wrestlers, he loses Big Brother in a car chase that leaves Fighting American falling off a bridge and into a boat filled with garbage! He is called back to Washington D.C. and finds that the government scientists lost monitoring contact with him and that he has pleased the Army who is financing his superhero adventures. Fighting American flashes back to how he became a hero and remembers the story of two brothers Johnny Flagg and his younger brother Nelson who make a TV talk show that pushes lots of buttons.  When Johnny talks ills of Ivan Brotski, he becomes a target for a hit that leaves him dead and Nelson at a cross roads as the government has offered him a way to merge with his dead brother and become a fighting machine for America.  The catch is the merge will take years! He snaps back to present day when he is reamed by one of the scientist for failing and is told one attack on his brother’s killers was enough, but he soon finds that Big Brother and his Pro Wrestling federation has a show that night and after making short work of their champ Mister Fixit he is able to bust Big Brother who is being taken away by cops after admitting his part in the Flagg murder and also informs him that Ivan has been missing for years. On his way back to the base, Fighting American finds Ivan who is now homeless and dies in front of him of a heart attack. Meanwhile a secret meeting is held by people in shadows, and the topic is how to deal with Fighting American.

What we have here is DC Comics trying to update a character from an era gone-by and make him hip and cool for readers of the 90’s, and for the most part it works. The plot of this first issue shows how two brothers became the target of a hit when they talked about the wrong crime family on their talk show.  With the help of science, the two brothers become one person and are now a tool for America to help with domestic terrors. But also revenge is on the mind of our new hero called Fighting American as he wants to bring down those who gunned down one of the brothers causing them to become this science experiment. And when getting to the one he thinks is responsible, his revenge is snatched from him due to natural death! Johnny Flagg is a talk show host who was a former soldier who speaks his mind on his TV show as he believes in America and what it stands for, and while a stand up guy, he does get gunned down before we truly get to know him. Nelson Flagg is a nerdy kind of guy who idolizes his brother and gives up his own life in order to merge with his dead brother, kind of weird but I guess that’s the American way! As Fighting American thus far all we get from him is that he is a superhero who works for the government who is more wrapped up into revenge than following orders. Big Brother, “Poison” Ivan Brotski and Mister Fixit are all just scumbags who were tops of the crime world but quickly fell from grace as they lost power, and all they have left is one Pro Wrestling Federation! It was nice to see Fighting American fail at his first attempt at revenge and later gear up and head into the lion’s den (or is that wrestling ring?) and try again until he was victorious.  It shows he has heart but is not going to be a puppet for anyone. The cover for this first issue is pretty eye catching and showcases the modern era Fighting American really well.  The one change to the costume that I find just silly if his blonde hair flopping out of the top of the mask…just silly and reminds me of The Shield that we covered last 4th of July. The interior art is done by Greg LaRocque and is pretty great stuff and is truly a capture of 90’s mainstream comics appeal. Over all this first issue was a great way to start off this series, and I am looking forward to see where the story goes and how our hero grows.

Fighting American # 2  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 2 of 6

Fighting American has become a media sensation after he gave an interview after saving a cat from a flag pole high above the city. The Shadow Organization are plotting a way to bring him down in the people’s eyes while the Government has decided to give him his own TV Show back as Johnny Flagg and has come up with a story that he has been MIA because his plan crashed in a jungle over 10 years ago, and this is were he meets his new producer Mary Loo. Meanwhile the ones who want to ruin him hire a band of performance art terrorists called Media Circus that has members like Anchorman, Spin Doctor, Sound Byte and Satellite Dish who are going to ruin Fighting American’s image and start by manipulating video of the kitten rescue to make it appear he placed the frightened cat on the pole to start with! The smear campaign hits, and the people turn on Fighting American and even on his show as Johnny Flagg.  He must cover the topic and Media Circus are the guests, but as the show goes on Mary Loo and a show worker find the tapes that clear Fighting American’s name as Johnny shows the whole world he is in fact the star spangled hero and along with his show crew they clear his name and take down the Media Circus as the evil shadow people are not happy.

This second issue lets the cat out of the bag as now the whole world knows that Johnny Flagg is the one and only Fighting American as he is sick of living a lie and telling untruths to the American people. The plot has a band of terrorist using TV to smear the name of the superhero, and he and his friends not standing for it and taking them down for the count. The Fighting American is a good man who does what he can to save the day no matter how big or small if he can help he will. As Johnny Flagg is out of touch with the times but is finding his way as he is now making friends thanks to the return of his TV Show and is also very much into his cute producer Mary Loo. The Media Circus are a band of weird looking carnies who can be hired to ruin someone’s life, and they try so hard but fail in their mission as they were just out classed and out matched by the pride of America. This issue does a great job of balancing both the character development of our hero as well as delivers lots of fighting action! The only downside to this issue is that Media Circus are not major threats and when push comes to shove they are beaten and exposed as frauds super fast giving the reader a lack of a really powerful villain. The one thing I do like is the fact Johnny no longer has to hide is identity as he has told the world he is the superhero that they all need. The cover of this issue is pretty cool and showcases the weird and wild look of TV mixed with the circus and a touch of costumed hero! The art is once more done by Greg LaRocque and is good stuff! Over all this is a solid second issue and really makes me look forward to reading the third to see what’s next for Fighting American.

Fighting American # 3  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 3 of 6

Fighting American is a hit with the American people again and has taken on a sidekick named Kid who works for his TV show that is also a ratings hit! But next the evil shadow group has hired Gross National Product, a fat yellow skinned man who is in Government power and who eats and eats.  He and his conman sidekick Def Izzit have caused madness with the people all in the name of greed and excess. Madness is running wild in the streets and people are attacking each other, not helping their fellow man and even has Fighting American arguing with his sidekick and during a fight almost breaks the finger of Def Izzit who in turn has the superhero arrested! In the end, the Fighting American is in jail waiting for a lawyer and gets the news that the head professor of the program has been kidnapped!

This third issue has Fighting American in a battle of good and greed as he is outsmarted by the hairy, fat, spaced toothed Gross National Product who has used his powers of persuasion to trick the people of America into being self-absorbed mindless tools. And when Fighting American gets the upper hand, he still is in the wrong and goes to jail for assault. Fighting American in this issue is still the pride of the goody two shoes but also has an edge to him as he has been mind tricked by his foe. His new sidekick, who they have not given a name to, is on his way to becoming the next Bucky as he is skilled and yet still young and sloppy in battle. Mary Loo in this issue takes a back seat, and while she shoots down Johnny Flagg’s dinner dates, it’s clear that she is a lesbian as her date shows up to take her to lunch and it’s a woman. Def Izzit is annoying and talks in riddles and rhymes and is one character that I hope gets the tar kicked out of him! Gross National Product is a great villain as he is pure evil and uses his powers to cause chaos and enjoys the evil he does and gorges himself while doing it on food, paper, boots and whatever else he can shove down his fat neck! The cliffhanger of Fighting American being in jail and his friend and the program doctor being kidnapped makes for a great way for the reader to want to see what’s next. The cover is pretty cool and showcases not only Fighting American but also his new sidekick and Gross National Product allowing the readers to know what they are in store for. The inside art is once more done by Greg LaRocque and is again great.  So to sum up this issue good classic superhero stuff with a touch of the 90’s.

Fighting American # 4  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 4 of 6

Fighting American is sitting in prison and is keeping his fellow inmates in good behavior all the while Mary Loo and Senator Dorkin are trying to get plan together to get him out. Gross National Product and Def Izzit have spread greed to the American people who are all now rushing to stores and spending all their money on products that they don’t need. The Kid is also inflected bad with the want to buy as he does not care about his friend Fighting American and even mouths off and steals from his parents. Mary Loo has the TV show film in the jail as The Kid snaps out of his trance and goes after Gross National Product and is able to find out that the heavyset baddie’s power comes from his sunglasses and uses it against him turning him into a man who regrets what he has done and even drops the charges against Fighting American and does work in the community to make things right! Out of jail, Fighting American goes back on the streets to save the town from evil, and we find out that Senator Dorkin is not a friend to our hero and is working with the shadow people to find whys to bring him down.

This issue should be called “Fighting American Goes To Jail” and should have been written and drawn like the Ernest movie! But really the plot has The Kid showing why he is a superhero now and with the help of his parents locking him in a back stock room, he is able to shake off the effects of the consume idea planted in his brain and single handedly defeats Gross National Product by using his own power and tricks against him and in turn gets the charges dropped against Fighting American who is now free and can do his TV Show and Superhero the streets. The Kid, who at first kind of felt like a way to make fun of classic Captain America stories by parodying Bucky, really became his own with this story, and they gave him more of a personality than just a goofy kid who tags along side our book’s hero. Fighting American takes a back seat in this issue as he is in jail all the way until the very end so he does not get to fight nor even clear his own name. Even while helpless Fighting American is still a very cool classic style superhero! Gross National Product is scum who in this issue makes the world want to buy, buy and buy all the while he still stuffs his face! But when the roles are turned and he sees what he has done, he turns over a new leaf and does good by the world and tries to keep it clean! Def Izzit is still just a rhythm-talking goof who sadly does not get his face pounded in! This issue also shows the read evil mastermind behind the attempted downfall of Fighting American and it’s Senator Dorkin! You see, he is the one works along the shadow people who want him out of the way so they can do their evil stuff. Nice twist as he seems like a friend the whole time. The poor Professor is set free and becomes self aware that the whole lab dislikes him as been the story of his whole life and becomes an alcoholic whom no ones seems to care that is free nor not returned to the lab.  I see him coming into play soon as a tool for evil…I could be wrong just have the feeling. Over all this is another solid issue with a cool cover and great art done by Greg LaRocque who is making this American Hero come alive in the pages of this DC Comic series.

Fighting American # 5  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 5 of 6

Senator Dorkin is being threatened by the shadow crime group for failing at getting Fighting American to be out of the hero business, and his last chance is the helmet wearing, mind controlling eye doctor named Phoroptor who is set to clean up the bad turn he sees America heading down and fills them with nostalgia! Meanwhile the Professor is going to blow the whistle on Senator Dorkin to Fighting American as Mary Loo herself finds that Dorkin is on the run and has a sinister past and present! While out Fighting American and The Kid are battling Phoroptor who is attacking civilians causing them to cry and go into rages over the present not being like the past. After a quick fight Phoroptor gets the upper hand and makes Fighting American question who he is as he has the memories of Nelson and Johnny and this makes him in the end realize that he is in fact both and is the hero known as Fighting American and with the help of the Professor he defeats Phoroptor and is soon joined by The Kid and Mary Loo who tells them that Dorkin has fled the USA and now they are all going to Europe to get answers and stop this evil plan.

This fifth issue of the Fighting American mini series from DC is lots of fun and crams in lots of great classic comic book hero moments as well as adds messages about America at the time. This one has the rug being pulled out from under Senator Dorkin who is being targeted by the shadow people as well as is now on the radar of Fighting American who’s TV producer has found his dark secret and the Professor is about to spill the beans on everything her knows. Fighting American in this issue is brave and fights past the crippling power of his foe and even seems to finally become one with who he really is and that’s both brothers! The Kid is around and is a solid generic style young sidekick character and shows that he as well is a good man as he saves people from the nostalgic feeling that was being spread by the evil foe in this issue. Mary Loo does a great job of piecing together the evil deeds of Senator Dorkin by entering his office and finding odd papers and a bad answering machine message. The Professor who is now a drunk is trying to turn his life around and wants to spill his guts to Fighting American on what he knows about the Shadow Group who want to ruin his heroic ways as well as keep America down. Senator Dorkin is a man with lots of power who is also now running for his life as he has gotten involved with the wrong type of people who don’t like failure! Phoroptor is a purple bubble mask wearing eye doctor who loves the past and cant stand the future and uses his special mask to make people become walking talking crybaby’s who yarn for the good old days of their youth. Over all this really is a silly and fun issue that is a great one to build up to the final issue in the mini series as we end with Fighting American on a mission to go to Europe to get answers and justice on Senator Dorkin! The cover is cool and the interior art is great and done by Greg LaRocque and not much more can be said besides this is a great and fun issue and keeps this series solid and enjoyable.

Fighting American # 6  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 6 of 6

Fighting American arrives in Ireland with his crew The Professor, Mary Loo and The Kid and soon find out that the shadow people are called The Free Association and that they have spies and workers all over.  Word gets to the group that they now have Dorkin and are taking him to a site that is said to be a gateway to another realm and soon find out that in this place has unknown spirits like Banshee’s that are really just holograms to keep people away.  Soon Fighting American and crew find themselves in the secret base of The Free Association and start to crack heads when they are trapped to the floor and an alien appears and tells them he is in fact the leader of The Free Association and that he is the one who ordered the killing of Johnny all those years back.  He is in fact the one who started the Fighting American program as he wanted to control him as a super solider for the bad guys! After some tourist stumble into the secret base Fighting American is able to break free and chase the Alien back to his UFO and ride the world of The Free Association!

The final issue of this mini series brings Fighting American and his war with The Free Association to an end and shows that the mastermind behind the attacks on our hero was a fat old alien who when confronted makes a run for his UFO and returns to space the loser in the battle. While the battle is not super epic and if not for the goofy tourist the fight might have gone another way as Fighting American was being held as bay as well as his crew and if not for the distraction the Alien had the upper hand! That’s one thing about this hero, he is just a normal guy and many times in this series luck and friends is how he beats his enemies. I also like that while he looks and is Johnny Flagg, he has the mind and smarts of Nelson Flagg and after some inner drama he is able to come to terms that his superhero alter ego Fighting American is in fact both brothers as one person. The Kid is a cool young sidekick who worked for the TV Station, and I like the fact that he comes from a family who owns a little bar that also bookies bets just to make ends meat. Mary Loo is also a cool hero who loves her job as a TV producer but also is not afraid to dig deep into trouble in order to get the truth.  I also like that she is not ashamed of being a lesbian and that the part of the character is treated really well and made me laugh when she finally told the aged Fighting American that she is gay and that’s why she don’t want to go on a date with him and at first he takes it as that she is happy…funny out of touch hero stuff. The Professor starts out as an over bearing grump who is the head of the program and after being kidnapped and made to feel useless he becomes an alcoholic only to snap out of it and join the team that is surrounding our hero. All the villains from the Alien to Media Circus to Senator Dorkin are great cheesy bad guys, but none of them feel like major threats and all are beaten pretty easily. The one thing that I really enjoyed about this comic that while done very over the top, it did have a message about how we as society at the time believed what we saw on TV, trusted all our politicians that they have our best interest in heart, how we buy things we don’t need just to spend money and so on and while its major part of the stories, it’s not super in your face. I also liked the fact that they took the main female character Mary Loo and had her be a strong gay character, and his sidekick was a young black male who broke the comic stereotypes.  Both were perfect for the roles they played in this comic adventure. Another cool thing is that while Fighting American is a fish out of water, they do not play up on that too heavily and just allow the character to accept times had changed. To me its crazy that DC Comics did not do anything with this character after this six issue mini series and allowed it him to just fade away from their company.  The only thing I can think of is super low sales or maybe the creative team moved onto another project and they could not find another team who wanted to keep the story going. The cover for this final issue is fantastic and showcases our three main heroes and the art inside once more was done by Greg LaRocque and is top notch 90’s comic book stuff! Over all I really enjoyed this comic series, and he was a perfect fit for this July 4th update as he embodied the sprit of this holiday and that’s a celebration of freedom and being American. Check out the artwork below to see what Greg LaRocque work looks like, and enjoy.

That was lots of fun, and Fighting American truly is an American Hero and is in league with The Shield and Captain America at being a true patriot superhero and a perfect fit to talk about on Independence Day. I am sure you are wanting to get back to the cook out or gear up for the fireworks so I will wrap this update up so you can all get back to enjoying your holiday! Our next update will be my vacation update where I will chat about Monster Bash and the Romero Dead film Day Of The Dead! So until next update, I want to thank you friends and readers for spending a small part of your July 4th with me and make sure to read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host! See you next update to relax with the zombies and monsters…

Body Count The Forgotten Horror Series From Aircel

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place for me to share my past, present and future! On this update, I want to chat a little about independent horror comics and my love for them! Growing up I was a avid comic reader, and super heroes like “Captain America”, “Batman”, “Spider-Man”, “Superman” and “The Incredible Hulk” were what I was reading at almost any given time as those were comics that we could find at the local grocery stores and comic racks at convenient stores. Besides the superhero comics, I also read lots based on toy lines, books and cartoons like “G.I. Joe”, “Masters Of The Universe”, “Transformers”, “Conan The Barbarian” and “Thundercats” that were also easy to find. The only horror comic titles I had were copies of “Werewolf By Night”, “Swamp Thing”, “Tomb of Dracula”, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”, “Godzilla” and “Man-Thing,” all mostly obtained at garage sales that acted as another source of a way for me and my brother to get comics. Growing up in a small town like Waynesville made it super hard to find out about other comics as it did not have a comic store (besides antique store Spencers that carried back issues of Power Man and Secret Wars 2). The closest ones around were Dark Star in Yellow Springs, Mavericks in both Kettering and Centerville and my all time favorite store Bookie Parlor that was also in Dayton/Kettering, and my parents would only take us to these stores from time to time when I was really young and more so when I was around 12 or 13. I can remember discovering that comic companies like NOW, Innovation, Eternity, Malibu and Epic were cranking out comics based not only on super heroes but also horror and science fiction comics and being blown away at the huge selection that comic shops had us readers able to choose from as I was used to the magazine section of Big Bear and Hearts in Lebanon where I got most of my comics from other than the subscriptions that my Mom and Dad would finally break down and get me and my brother. The good old Marvel Comics subscriptions through the mail was where I would get my issues of Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Amazing Spider-Man delivered to my waiting hands, but the worst part about it was our mailman would fold the issues in order to place them in our mailbox leaving the issues with a bend down the center! But while I loved my super hero adventures, I was a Monster Kid so I also loved to read about the night time terrors of Dracula from the pages of Tomb Of Dracula, the inner struggle of Jack Russell the Werewolf By Night, the stomping rampage of Godzilla as well as the burning touch of Man-Thing who I always enjoyed more than Swamp Thing in the comic world…I know it’s because I am a Marvel Guy. The only independent horror comics that I owned and had access to were from Gold Key and Whitman and were such things as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and some very beat up and in some case coverless issues of Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery that my brother Bryan shared with me. But my love for horror comics really exploded when visits to the local comic shops started to happen more often and my parents started to enjoy the fact I was reading a bunch and encouraged me to choose comics and even paperback novels I would enjoy.

The first time I walked into the Bookie Parlor, I was a fan as the owner Hal and his wife Sue were super nice to me and my brother, and after coming in for a few times and spending money Hal would start to let me know when he got new back issues of Hulk and Captain America in. At the Bookie Parlor, I discovered Atlas Comics and its characters like The Brute, Son Of Dracula and their series like “Tales Of Evil”. And at Bookie Parlor is where I found comics by Epic based on the Clive Barker films “Nightbreed” and “Hellraiser” and started my obsession with the Nightbreed and Rawhead Rex cross over. It was also where I discovered Eternity Comics and the fact they made comics based on Full Moon Entertainment films likes “Subspecies” and “Puppet Master” that I had to have and read. Claypool was another comic company Bookie Parlor introduced to me who made comics based on “Elvira Mistress Of The Dark”!

At Mavericks Cards and Comics in Kettering, a place I would later work for, I met owner Jack who always treated me and my brother like we were his friends and would also give us discounts as well as free comics.  During these early years is when I met Jason Young who years later would be one of my closest friends as well as Jeremy Hoyt! While shopping Mavericks I discovered NOW Comics who made comics based on the TV Show “Twilight Zone” and horror film “Fright Night” as well as Innovation who did comics based on the films “Psycho”, “Child’s Play” and “A Nightmare On Elm Street”! Another independent comic company Mavericks introduced me to was Apple who did weird adult horror comics like “Dracula In Hell” and another company, Blackthorne, who shocked me with comics based on the film “Waxwork” and TV Show “Werewolf”. Between these two stores my want and need for horror comics was in full effect as I would buy whatever ones I could get my hands onto, from comics based on killer “Jack The Ripper” to ones based on classic monsters like “Phantom Of The Opera” and even ones that I had no idea what they were even about before buying like “Body Count.”  All I knew was that I needed to read them all! During this time I also started buying Topps Comics as they had many amazing titles out like “Dracula Frankenstein War”, “Bram Stokers Dracula”, “Satan’s Six”, “Jason Goes To Hell” and “Jason vs. Leatherface” and with Dracula Frankenstein War started my first ever comic store pull list. During this time was also the birth of me having to have all the comics based on horror films as many of the films I loved had adaptations and new comic killing adventures for them as such titles as “Re-Animator”, “Halloween”, “Army Of Darkness”, “Night Of The Living Dead”, “Blair Witch Project”, “Pumpkinhead” and so many more from many different comic companies all had comics based around them. For me the comic killing sprees for these movie monsters was another way to add to the characters’ legacy and a way for fans to get a little more while waiting for the next film.

During this time as well I didn’t give up on Marvel Horror as I went out of my way to get more and more issues of Werewolf By Night and the others as they also filled the need to read horror comics. During this time was a true magical age for horror comics as besides the companies mentioned above you had Arrow, Fantaco, Aircel, Northstar, Chaos, Dead Dog, IDW, Avatar, ONI, Fangoria and many others publishing and making horror themed comics from the late 80’s thru the mid 2000’s with each delivering blood and gore filled issues. But during what I call the Golden Years of Horror Comics also came the crash of the 90’s when Marvel and DC once more went to war to dominate the shelf space at comic shops and by putting out so much product, they forced many amazing companies to go under as did cut throat politics in the industry among small press companies. The companies that have fallen to the comic rack in the sky that I miss the most and wonder what they would be making now if still around have to be Topps Comics, Fangoria Comics and Dead Dog Comics all of whom were some of my favorite companies going and all who delivered some amazing horror comics into readers hands. During these years horror comics were coming out less and less, and many of them were not based on horror films as they were just original titles mostly based on vampires or zombies with 2003’s Walking Dead from Image being the biggest horror comic title in years.

We are now in 2017, and over the past two years, independent horror comic companies are back on the rise and are making some amazing and entertaining stuff. While the bigger companies like Image, IDW, Boom and Devil’s Due are putting out horror comics with titles like Lord Of Gore, Godzilla, Kong Of Skull Island and Walking Dead, it’s also the smaller guys who are coming into your comic shops and online stores with some amazing stuff that is bringing back the boom of these comics that has been long dead for to long.

My favorite small press company is Eibon Press, run by Shawn Lewis who is also the owner of t-shirt company Rotten Cotton.  They are doing amazing comic books with releases based on Italian director Lucio Fulci movies like “Zombie” and “Gates Of Hell”! They also have titles based on such films as “Laserblast”, “Maniac” and many more including an original series called “Bottom Feeder” in the works. Another cool thing about Eibon is that they have what’s called the Eibon Sleeve that is like a record sleeve for your comic.  They also back it with all types of great stuff like stickers, trading cards, bookmarks and even vinyl records!

Action Lab has a sub company called Danger Zone that has put out some great spooky series and mini series like ones based on Full Moon films “Puppet Master”, “Gingerdead Man” and “Trancers” as well as original titles like “Final Plague”, “Southern Dog” and “Blood & Dust”. While it seems at this time the Full Moon comic deal has come to an end, I have faith that their editor-in-chief Shawn Gabborin will unleash more horror themed comics to the market.

Small publisher Lion Forge has released the series “Night Trap” alongside other horror themed books like “Mad Balls” based on the spooky toys. This company prices their comics at a great price at $2.99 each and sadly seem to be gone or on hold as I have not seen much from them in Diamond Previews as of late. But while their fate of physical comics is up in the air, they still tried to make a small mark for Horror Comic readers.

Rough House Publishing run by Derek Rook has brought back two classic horror comics from the graveyard as they have released “The Dead Omnibus” as well as new issues of “Gore Shriek” with a comic based on the remake of the film “Nightmare City” coming soon. This is a company I cannot wait to see what else is coming from as rumors of music and other cool media items have surfaced as has lots of gossip about what’s in store for the comics they are doing.

The Blood-Shed Publishing has a series called “We Kill The Dead” on the way that showcases over 20 movie slashers from independent horror films doing battle with a government elite team. This is a mini series and rumors of new horror comics from them have been floating around. This is one comic company that is attached to a horror news website that you might want to keep your eyes on.

Space Goat is a company that has been around since 2014 making comics as well as board games. They have also delivered some great horror comic titles like “Evil Dead 2”, “The Howling”, “Zombie Camp” and “Forty Coffins” to name a few. And I also want to give a shout out to Titan Comics who have been doing their best at delivering entertaining spooky comics like “Anno Dracula”, “It Came” and even have Hammer Horror comics with “The Mummy” and rumor of “Captain Cronos Vampire Hunter” coming soon! Plus American Mythology is doing some great comics and even one based on the Adam Green film “Hatchet” as is Alterna who has titled like “Croak” and “The Chair” to name a few so as you can see the world of horror comics has lots of great companies doing amazing things.

When opening Sparkle Comics alongside Jason Young in 2016 and after getting friends and amazing artists like Damien Brunk, Jason Gilmore and Scott Scarborough joining the comic making family, I knew we had to make horror comics so we even opened a branch we are calling Blood Scream Comics that is slated to showcase gore and more mature style horror comics with the all ages and teen horror comics coming out via the Sparkle label. Sp far for Sparkle Comics, we have the free online comic called “Don’t Play With Monsters” that features foolish kids coming across monsters who are not as cute as they appear. “Shocking Macabre Theater” is an anthology comic that has Dayton, Ohio horror hosts Dr. Creep, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Baron Von Porkchop sharing twisted tales with a stranded motorist. We also have “The Wolf Hunter” based on the shot on video film of the same name that was directed by Matt Hoffman who also played the title role and has The Wolf Hunter killing werewolves in the state of Ohio. We have a series called “Unknown Creatures” that features tales of cryptozoology creatures with the first issue being about the Flatwoods Monster! We also have 12 page issue # 0’s in the works that are based on shot on video films from Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video that will feature stories based on “The Sadness”, “Farmer Joe” and “Scars” and will allow our readers the chance to vote on which horror baddie will get a full # 1 issue! With many more amazing horror comic titles in the works, we hope to entertain readers with spooky, gory and twisted tales. One thing I am the most proud of is that via Blood Scream Comics we will be doing issues based on the films of Paul Naschy as well as have comics based on films from such companies as Warlock Home Video, Massacre Home Video, Brain Damage Films, Scream Time Films and Nevermore Productions in the works as well as comics based on pro wrestlers who fit the horror theme! So there are lots of great spooky reads are coming your way via Sparkle and Blood Scream Comics.

Sorry for being so long winded; it’s just I really do think that it’s a great time to be not only a horror comic reader but also just a comic reader in general. And I really do feel that horror comics have a bright future with many of these companies turning out very high quality comics that are well written and well drawn driving the market back up for the independents. But let’s get focused on the comic I have chosen to review for this spooky epic update and that’s Body Count, a silly horror comedy comic that I discovered at Mavericks Cards And Comics when I was a teen and bought and read and enjoyed for the wacky killer and the large chested heroine…oh and the over the top kills. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic, Ebay and Lone Star Comics for making this update possible and having these issues in stock so that I could own them again and cover for this review. So if you’re ready, check your brain and taste at the door and let’s dive into a late 80’s and early 90’s horror comic that will have you screaming with fear and laughing after with joy. I also want to note that even as a youngster I never could find the 4th and final issue so this will be my first time reading how this story ends! Oh yeah 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 lets take a look at Body Count!

Body Count # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 1 of 4

Winter Falls College is a high priced school where the students are watched by the hotheaded Dean Burns and make fun of simple minded janitor Wanker. Professor Chill is a science teacher and has caught the eye of his student and assistant Becky who will does what she can to get him to notice her.  From short shorts to tights shirts, she brings her A-game, and together they are working on a formula that will in theory turn a nerd into a jock.  After they leave to get some dinner, a pair of students looking to steal knock over the formula and rush away telling Wanker about the mess in the lab. Wanker, being simple minded, takes a taste of the formula goo and it starts to melt him and flings his body into a deep sea divers suit.  He dons the helmet and becomes a crazed killer, and his first victims are the two thief kids that meet their ends with a mop through the head and a telescope through the eyes! When Prof. Chill and Becky return to the lab they find the dead bodies as well as the missing formula and call Dean Burns who heads to the lab to cover up the murder. Meanwhile Wanker is still on his killing spree and drops power cables into the pool killing three students by electrocution causing a power outage and as he is leaving the pool area, he catches Dean Burns and makes him drink Drano! As Chill and Becky leave the lab, they find the bodies and guess that Wanker must have drank the formula and is now a killer and is headed toward town!

This comic is just as silly and over the top as I remember it being when I first read it in my mid teen years. The plot is very much like an 80’s B-movie horror film as a geek puts on a mask and murders those who tormented him, the setting is a college, and the victims are all mean spirited and selfish people who are killed in horrific ways. Professor Chill is our hero, and while smart, he is also pretty goofy and has a hint that he does not really know what they heck he is doing in the lab.  While a goof, he still remains calm with all the bodies pilling up around him and it’s clear he is thinking of ways to stop the killer. Becky is a typical hot chick who showcases her amazing body and uses it to get her way, but when the killing starts she also becomes hysterical and screams her head off in fright! While she is just a scared woman now, it’s clear that she is in for the long haul with her man Prof. Chill. Wanker is just a simple minded janitor who is mistreated by both staff and students and after tasting the foul smelling formula goo, he transforms into a brutal killer who is on a rampage of revenge.  He also turns ugly and disfigured from the goo and wears a diver’s helmet as his killing mask. Wanker is cold and brutal with his best kill being the telescope through the eye as it’s so brutal and gross, it made my own eyeballs hurt! The gore is slightly over the top.  Not on the level of Arrow Comics’ The Dead but it’s more brutal than IDW’s The Fly: Outbreak so Gorehounds have a little splatter to make them happy. The true nature of the comic is also horror comedy as many silly lines are delivered by characters as is cheap sexual jokes that are fitting and add to the cheesy fun of the comic. The cover is okay and does not truly do justice to what the comic is about and the art inside is cartoonish and done by Dave Cooper, fitting for this style of horror comic. Over all, this is an above average horror comedy comic that acts as a build up for this four issue mini series.

Body Count # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 2 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky, along with a device they created that picks up the chemical that created the killer Wanker, head out into town to see if they can find him before he kills again. Meanwhile two fisherman in a boat are not so lucky as the now farting and stinky Wanker sets his sights on them and kills one by crushing his head and leaves the other in a state of shock wandering the roads when he runs into Chill and Becky who take him into town and try to warn the law of the killer on his way. Meanwhile Wanker has found a new pair of college victims who are on a motorcycle joyride as he decapitates the man with a fish and causes the woman to be flung from the bike and smash into a tree! Chill arrives at the police department, and the Sheriff and Deputy rush off to the College before they even could hear why they are running! As Prof. Chill and Becky wonder what they can do to stop Wanker, the police run into the killer that leaves the Deputy dead from a ricochet bullet and the sheriff is bull rushed into some bushes, After the screaming stops Wanker appears, this time around bigger in size!

The rampage of Wanker continues as he makes his way closer to town with murder and destruction on his sick and twisted mind. Professor Chill and Becky come up with a tracking devise that goes off when the killer is around and can also be used to save others, as it’s a warning to the approaching death dealer. They also try the best they can to get help and rush an injured scared to death man to the local law office only to be greeted by the world’s worst police officers! So as you can see the pair of scientists have done all they can up to this point to try and save lives of the townspeople. The Sheriff and Deputy are as backwoods as they come and think everyone is an alien or a communist and are easily slaughtered and out smarted. Wanker is now turning worse and is smelling terrible, becoming more ooze-based with even more of a thirst for blood. He is slowly making his way to the town and killing almost anyone that gets in his way, but oddly enough he allowed one of the fisherman to live! It’s shown that bullets can’t kill and stop Wanker as he is shot a number of times by the Sheriff and simply shrugs them off like Michael Myers from Halloween. Plus at the end of the issue, he grows in size and makes you wonder: did he eat the sheriff or can he body jump like in the films The Hidden and Jason Goes To Hell. The best kill in this issue has to be the decapitation of a collage age brat on a motorcycle with a fish! It’s an over the top and dumb kill but is hands down my favorite in the issue. The blood and gore is once more present and not terribly over done. The cover this time around is better and shows Wanker in all his slimy glory, and the art once more is done by Dave Cooper and is well done for this style of horror comedy comic. And just like the first issue, this one is holding up to what I remember and was a fun read and makes me look forward to reading the next issue again after all these years.

Body Count # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 3 of 4

Becky and Professor Chill are at the bar in Winter Fell and trying to get the locals to believe them about the Wanker Killer that is heading their way, but no one does no matter how hard they try. Meanwhile Wanker stalks and kills a young man on a date by ripping his head off and than turns his attention to the young man’s girlfriend who is running toward town to warn others. Chill and Becky next try to warn the town barber shop of the killer’s rampage but she as well meets her fate by the hands of Wanker who snaps her neck. Chill and Becky run around town trying to warn people of the killer after the barber shop also gives them the high hat as does the post office and the mayor who allows his bodyguard to beat up Chill on his front lawn. In the end Chill and Becky spot Wanker now in town and run to the town’s switchboard operator, and they phone the National Guard and talk to General Howitzer who tells them they are on their way.

The plot thickens as now Wanker is in town and no one believes the warnings being given by Chill and Becky who try every major place in town to spread the coming of a killer. Chill, who feels responsible for the Killer as his formula is what turned a nerdy janitor into a head crushing killer, must push as hard as he can to inform the townspeople as their deaths would be on his hands…kind of. After being beat up and called a communist by all the towns people he almost just walks away to let them deal with the approaching death, but he is reminded that he loves this little town that has acted as away for him to score with collage chicks and get away from his nasty wife. Becky tries to help spread the warning the best she can, but sadly she is just eye candy and no one really listens to her. Wanker is shown to be using the Sheriff’s body as a suit as he has half way crawled up the bodies back and controls it. Wanker is stronger now and after killing a couple on a date has entered town to cause some major damage. This issue only has two deaths and while violent, they are not super gory and a little toned down, with the best being the head rip off from the shoulders of the boyfriend. The story in this issue reminds me of “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” and “The Blob” as no one is listening to our heroes as everyone thinks their story is to over the top, and this brings more of the B-Horror Movie aspect out of this comic series. The cover is pretty good and once more captures what this series really is all about and the interior art is still done by Dave Cooper and is fantastic for this goofy, gory comic. This issue is filled with lots of humor and once more is a mix of redneck humor, slap stick and adult humor all done at the expense of Becky. Another fun issue just like I remember it and is the lead up to the last issue in the Winter Fell rampage of Wanker and his over sized divers helmet. So let’s move onto the fourth and final issue and discover how Wankers is stopped…or is he, as this will be the first time I have read issue four as I never could find it, so it will be a first time read for me!

Body Count # 4  **
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 4 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky wait in town, and the pressure hits Chill who feels bad about the rampage of Wanker as his formula goo is what created him! But before they can wonder if the Army can stop the rampage, they show up lead by the crazed and kill hungry General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur who’s first plan of action is to blow up the bar with his tank as Wanker is inside killing off drinkers, but his attack fails to stop Wanker! The next target is the barbershop as Wanker enters it and kills off the barber and a man looking to get a shave, this time The General hits the business with a missile from a helicopter…it as well fails as Wanker is spotted again alive and unwell! Chill informs them that if they can capture it alive he might be able to cure Wanker and the Army turns on the Professor calling him a monster lover and boot him and Becky off the tank and head back into the hunt for the killer. As Becky and Chill hide the Army finds Wanker who is not scared of the tank and guns and charges causing The General to panic and order for the big bomb to be dropped, as the plan does so and the atomic bomb goes off our story ends with Chill hugging Becky and wondering what effect the radiation will have on Wanker!

The final issue is by far the weakest issue and I am pretty sure even in my middle teens I would have not been a super fan of this overly plotted army based issue that seemed to be rushed and with a very weak ending for the killers rampage. Prof. Chill and Becky are once more thrown to the side when the army gets mad that they want to cure the killer and not kill him like they want to do, but by the army turning on them and chasing them off is what saved their lives as they were able to hide as the bomb was dropped. These lovers are more just waiting to be saved as they have done all they could to save the townspeople and watch in horror as not only Wanker kills those who were rude to them but so does the army! The Army and their leader General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur are fools who like to blow things up and really have no plan of action of how to really stop Wanker besides just that blow things up…reminds me of the army in Return Of The Living Dead. The townspeople are all crazy and rude and none of them want to believe that a killer is heading their way ready for mayhem and murder, and they get what’s coming to them for being such scummy people. Wanker who is still using the body of the Sheriff as almost a suit of armor is finally in town and wants to make his body count rise hire and hire by knocking off the towns people, and he proves that he is not even scared of a whole army as when they finally have him cornered he don’t back down he lunges forward to take them all one and their tank! His brutal and quite nature makes him like Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and Michael Myers (Halloween) but not taken as serious by the writer and creators of this comic mini-series. The issue has some blood, guys and kills but they seemed very toned down this issue as does the art done by Dave Cooper that seems very much rushed and lacks the appeal and moody nature of the issues that came before it. The cover as well is not all that great as it just showcases the army…yep, not the killer or even something that shows it’s a horror comic at all! While this might not be the best Independent Horror Comic series of the late 80’s and Early 90’s and by most accounts I am sure this is forgotten and issues can be found in .25 or $1.00 boxes around the world at comic shops, to me it is one that stands out and one I can remember picking up from Mavericks all those years back and reading them while sitting in my room in Waynesville and wondering just how the story was to unfold as I never could find this final issue….and after all these years finding a copy and reading it, while I am little disappointed in the way Wanker’s rampage came to an end I do enjoy the fact it was left wide open for another mini series that sadly never was made. If you love horror comics from the 90’s that have a hint of humor in them, I suggest you check out Body Count, as it is sure to please or at the very least entertain you slightly. Below is some artwork samples from the Body Count series and I should also note that artist Dave Cooper is known for his work on such comics as Suckle and Bent as well as he worked on Nickelodeon Magazine and co-created the cartoon “Pig Goat Banana Cricket” for the station.

I see lots of great horror comics on the horizon for us readers, and it really is a great time to be alive and a comic book fan. Body Count was one of the early independent horror comics I read and after all these years, it kind of holds up as I still find it entertaining, silly, bloody and gory with a lackluster ending. I would love to hear from you friends and readers about what horror comic you first remember reading when younger and even what horror comics are you reading now.  Leave me a comment as I would love to hear from you about this. So for our next update we are leaving Winter Fell behind and joining a underrated Superhero from DC Comics, the super android The Red Tornado! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you soon for some DC Comics talk…

It’s The Final Plague Countdown!

Animals can be a person’s best friend, but they can also be very scary and can not only kill and eat you but also can spread diseases and wipe out hundreds, if not millions, of people with the likes of plagues and rabies. Today’s update will be a quick one focusing on scary animals, pets, disease and a comic miniseries by Action Lab Comics’ horror branch, The Danger Zone, called The Final Plague. I have to say that Action Lab: Danger Zone has locked itself as a great company for horror comic readers as they not only do original series but they have also teamed up with Full Moon Entertainment to bring us high quality comics based on their films like Puppet Master and Gingerdead Man. The one thing that is really cool about Action Lab is that their Editor In Chief Shawn Gabborin is very interactive with the readers and loves comic books in general, something that I feel is lacking in other companies that are just doing series for money and not with love and the enjoyment to entertain.  I think Shawn and Action Lab are in this comic game for all the right reasons. So get into your hazmat suit as it’s time to walk among the infected animals from the twisted world of The Final Plague!

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The Black Plague spread across Europe from 1346-1353 and infected and killed up to 200 million people all thanks to fleas on rats that infected people through bites and contaminated food supplies. In 1975, the first case of Lyme Disease was diagnosed.  It is also spread from tick bites with symptoms that include fatigue, a bullseye rash and feeling like you have a bad case of the flu.  If not treated, it will cause brain issues as well as infects joints and organs. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow Disease, not only infects cows but also humans who eat meat from an infected cow.  It causes major brain and nerve issues. Swine Influenza, aka Swine Flu, is a virus that infects pigs who can then pass onto humans.  In 2009, an outbreak happened that left around 203,000 people dead. The Bird Flu, or Avian Influenza is a sickness that kills birds and can spread to humans via infected meat and the process of preparing the infected bird for slaughter. And let’s not forget Rabies, a disease that infects animals minds and causes them to go mad with rage before death finally comes for them.  If a human is bitten by an infected animal such as a dog, cat, raccoon or opossum they as well are driven mad. These are just a drop in the hat of the viruses and diseases that we as human beings can be infected by thanks to our animal friends that we share this world with.

rats-that-spread-the-plaguereal-tickswine-flu-pig

If the fact that animals and their viruses and diseases can infect and kill us all doesn’t have you creeped out, let us not forgot that many animals are also man-eaters and will feast on our flesh with their razor sharp teeth and claws. Over the years bears, tigers, wolves, dogs, cats, alligators, hippos, sharks, hogs and so many others have killed and eaten humans. Let us also not forget that many animals and insects like spiders, frogs, snakes and gila monsters can poison you with their toxins and rancid bites. So in other words, nature is scary!! Growing up, my mother was scared of dogs and hogs, while I was scared of that bison at Fantasy Farm and many other people in the world have fear of animals from spiders to roaches all the way to mice some animals can also scare people to death just by being around them! Growing up I had lots of dreams about being attacked by animals with the most recent being about me in a outdoor shopping mall along with some friends looking at paperback books and music CD’s when all of a sudden the outdoor mall was under attack by grizzly bears! All the people started to run as the bears attacked, and I found myself alongside one of my friends in a metal locker as one of the bears tried so hard to break in and eat us! Almost all my dreams about attacking animals have been about grizzly bears…I wonder if in a past life I was attacked by one….who knows. But one thing is for sure, when you are out in the woods watch out for predator animals as you might just end up being lunch for one.

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While the world is filled with real life animal attacks, Hollywood wanted to also cash in on the idea of when animals attack and has graced both the big and small screen with films based on just that idea. Who can forget such classic animal run wild films as The Birds (1963), Willard (1971), Frogs (1972), The Night Of A Thousand Cats (1972), Jaws (1975), Grizzly (1976), Day Of The Animals (1977), Piranha (1978), Cujo (1983), Rats: Night Of Terror (1984) and so many more! Let’s also not forget when Hollywood decided to make the animals bigger because regular sized ones just couldn’t cut it.  So they delivered Tarantula (1955), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Food Of The Gods (1976), The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), Alligator (1980) and Island Claws (1980) to name a select few. To this day, Hollywood is making when animals attack style horror films, as they understand people’s primitive fears of animals that kill and can’t be reasoned with. Do yourself a favor if you’re into horror films, have some friends and family over and have a Horror Movie Marathon with all killer animal films and then go for a walk in the woods the next day and see if you can spook yourself from the sounds of nature around you.

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Over my lifetime I have had many pets who have added friendship and entertaining moments that will stick with me forever. Droopy was the first dog in my life as he was around when I was really young.  Sadly, he was stolen while the family went on vacation.  You long time readers will remember I spoke about him on my Foofur update. For a short time after Droopy, my dad rescued a little tiger striped kitten from the side of the highway/  Some a-hole put him in a bag and left him to die…he was bitten badly by fleas, and we took him home nursed him back to health and found him a forever home.  Both of these were before I was even in kindergarten and were our Kettering pets. Also in Kettering was Roxanne, a cockatoo bird that we rescued from outside.  She lived with us for many years and even moved with us to Waynesville and was such a sweet bird who loved us all. Moving to Waynesville, we found a baby opossum that was orphaned when its mother was hit by a car.  I named him Baby Chuck.  He stayed with us for a while, and we had to feed him milk via an eye dropper. Baby Chuck would find his permanent home at a nature reserve thanks to a nice older man who allowed him to live on his land and grow old. My neighbor raised mice and after begging and, I am sure, whining, my parents allowed me to have two of them, females that I called Grey and White.  They were my best friends and both of them loved just hanging out with me while I played Nintendo, read books and comics and even watched TV. Sadly, White passed away from a tumor, and Grey passed away from old age…it was a very sad day for me as I loved them both and they were part of the family for sure as my parents and brother as well enjoyed their tiny friendship. Later on I would get another mouse, this time a male that I named Ben. He was also a lovable little guy who enjoyed his life with me as my friend pet. We also had a big aquarium and many fish, but one was very special as we had him for many, many years.  He grew to be the biggest gold fish in our tiny glass pond, and we called him Gil.  He sadly passed away from old age, my Dad really loved that silly fish. My Aunt Laverne and cousin Nick gave me a hamster that I called S.P.G, named after the pet hamster from the BBC show “The Young Ones.”  While most of the time he was friendly, he did have a nasty habit of biting.  He lived a long life that was filled with many blood drawing moments. When moving back to Kettering, my parents bought me a German Shepard puppy that we named Stella.  She was a goofy dog that I had many adventures with as I was the new kid and she was my best friend as by that time both my parents worked as did my brother and that left me home alone a lot.  She was like me always, ready to run around and discover the world around. Stella was a great dog and while she was scared of almost everything, when she thought I was ever in danger she would turn into a protective beast ready for a fight.  I can remember one time some neighbors set off fireworks and she jumped in front of me and was ready to fight the bright sky lights. Stella lived a long life and sadly had to be put to sleep after old age kicked in and she had major medical issues that left her forgetting how to eat and drink…it was a very sad day. When I got older and moved away from home and in with my then girlfriend Misty Altick, I got her a kitten she named Neptune, but I called him Poops.  He was a silly cat who grew up to be a chubby very loving cat.  I used to make up stories about him being wanted by rival cats and how he was this ultimate badass. During this time, I also got an older female cat named Gracie who was on a final sale at a local pet store.  Gracie was very odd but loved me with all her little heart.  Funny enough, she hated Misty and when we first got her she spent many nights hissing at Misty as well as scratching her. Gracie and Poops had babies together later on and each of them found homes, but they lived with us for awhile and they were all very lovable little creatures who loved to sleep, climb and scream at me.  We named a few of them Poops Jr., Grizz, Midnight. Sadly when Misty and I broke up, I had to leave the cats behind and she would later on give them away to her friends.  I wonder what has happened to them many nights. About 11 years ago, while dating Jennifer Perkins, she bought me a kitten from a local pet shop that I named Leslie.  She has been my best pal for so long that I cannot imagine not having her sleeping on my chest at night or sitting next to me as I write these blogs. Leslie is truly my favorite pet I have ever owned! Also about 6 years ago, my current girlfriend Juliet and I took in a stray male cat from around our apartment that I named Streets J. Cat.  He is a Norwegian forest cat who is as goofy as goofy can be and is a well loved addition to our little home, even if Leslie hates him! So while nature can be scary, they can also be very lovable and add so much to the lives of owners who have pets. Below are pictures of Leslie and Streets, the two current goofy balls that share my life with me.

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So as you can see, nature can be scary as well as sweet and brighten up you life, and with that I think, it’s time for us to jump into a comic series that I have been very hyped to read ever since I found out about it in late 2015. As you long time readers know, I am a big fan of horror comics and love to discover and read new series and issues that catch my attention, and The Final Plague did just that after finding it on Action Lab’s website and seeing the cover for issue one with a hooded man holding a rat eating a human eyeball made me have to track down the series.  For some reason it was really hard to find the single issues as the graphic novel was all over the place. But thanks to the team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Lone Star Comics and Amazon I was able to get the complete single issue run! And while I am sitting here writing, this my cat Leslie wants 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. See having pets sure can be helpful when you have a blog like this as they can remind you to place the star grading for the over 100th time.

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The Final Plague # 1  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 1 of 5

It’s 2012, and for some reason rats and other pets has become more aggressive and seem to be diseased. A lab in New Jersey has found that their lab rats have been bleeding from the eyes and are becoming very violent.  One even spit its own blood into the eyes and mouth of a lab assistant causing her and the mice to be put into quarantine. Meanwhile in New York, a drunk homeless man is attacked by a pack of crazed virus infected rats! In Iowa at the Michaels family farm, they are having issues with these rats in their cellar, and when one goes on the attack Helen, the mother of the family, has to cut off its head to get it to stop attacking their daughter Sarah.  She orders her husband Robert and son Thomas after dinner to go to the cellar and kill off the rats that are scratching at the door. Helen is sick with cancer but is still trying her best to be the backbone for her family and cooks a roast for dinner, and she finds out her husband has invited Alan, the town’s exterminator, over for dinner and help to kill off the rats in the cellar. During dinner Alan is telling the family about how the whole town is being infested with pests and that business is booming as everyone wants these aggressive animals exterminated.  After dinner Alan goes into the cellar to kill some rats when something goes wrong and he screams and comes up stairs covered with rats who are eating his flesh!

The Final Plague’s starting story is this: animals are acting really odd and have gotten some sort of virus that is making their eyes bleed as well as hungry for human flesh and are becoming aggressive and hard to kill.  This is spreading throughout the United States,  but we mainly focus on the Michaels family in Iowa as they have a cellar full of nasty rats who end up attacking the local exterminator! Plus we throw in the lab workers in New Jersey who are gearing up to understanding what this virus is. The Michaels family are good hard working country people who are taking care of their farm, and mother Helen is a strong person who, while ill with cancer, is still doing all she can to provide and help her family including cooking and even bashing rats to death that make an attempt to attack her family. The character who gets the worst attack, besides the drunken bum, is Allen who by the end of the issue is running around swarmed with rats all that are biting and ripping at his flesh. So far I am kind of digging the flow of the story as it’s clear this is just the start of something way worse that will lead to many human deaths and the animals around the globe will be the cause of it! The character I am liking the most at this point is a tie between Robert and Helen both who are hard working people who seem to enjoy farm life as well as family life. The issue is not a blood bath but does have some of the red stuff that helps add to the horror of it all. The cover is amazing and super eye catching. I wish the hooded character who appears on it was actually in it, but sadly he is not and to be honest, he is what made me want to read this series in the first place. The art inside is interesting and while not the style I normally like, I will still say it’s solid and is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown who clearly does have talent. Issue one was pretty cool and a nice build up issue for this story so let’s hope that issue two gives us some more clues to why this is happing and if Alan will survive the attack of the rats in the Michaels’s farmhouse.

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The Final Plague # 2  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 2 of 5

Alan is torn to shreds by the killer rats that now attack the family and bite Robert several times, but he and his son Thomas are able to capture many of the rats in an old toolbox that they now plan to burn in a fire! Alan is dead, and the family is in shock.  The only thing they can do is call 911 in order to remove the body of Alan and tell the local law what has happened. Meanwhile, back in the lab in New Jersey, they find that the rats are almost un-killable and that they have a strange fluid in them as well as give off a foul smell and this worries them as it could sweep across the world and infect many more animals. All around animals are attacking humans, from dogs eating an old woman and then turning on the cops, to the Michaels family cat who is returning to life after being part eaten by the rats! The Michaels Family leave the farm as the town sheriff Frank starts his investigation into the death of Alan and the rats that are crazed in the basement. Meanwhile the scientist are having issues of their own as the army have taken over the lab and have it on lockdown until the CDC can show up, and the lab assistant bitten by the rat is now a crazed cannibal who has attacked and killed a fellow worker!

The plague is spreading in this second issue.  The Michaels family leave their farm as the local law shows up to investigate the death of the towns exterminator while the government is now taking over the lab and want to declare a level 4 emergency! The Michael Family is scared, confused and strong as they do what they can in order to help the dying Alan with father Robert even being bitten several times by the infected rats. The scientists want to do what they can in order to figure out what is causing this plague, but they have a thorn in their side thanks to the army! The animals that are running wild and eating flesh this go-round are rats and dogs.  Plus it shows that a dead cat is coming back and that humans can be infected making me wonder what the fate of Robert Michaels will be as he has been bitten twice. The issue is drenched in blood and gore as people are killed as are animals complete with guts exposed showing that this Danger Zone comic is not pulling any punches. This second issue was the hardest one in the series for me to find, and I am glad I was able to find it and do this review. The cover this time around is an infected animal and is ok but not nearly as eye catching as issue one.  In fact, I am sure it was lost in the crowd of brighter and more appealing covers when it was released. Again the interior artwork is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and once more is good but not what I normally like in my comics as it’s just a little to sloppy. Well issue two is done and the plot is ticking, so let’s see what issue three has in store for the world as the diseased animals are on the loose and want to eat and infect mankind! I also want to note that the hooded man from the cover of issue one does not show up in this one either and that’s a letdown.

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The Final Plague # 3  **
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 3 of 5

At the lab an attempt is being prepared to enter the holding cell to restrain the infected lab assistant who is now being called Patient Zero as she has bitten, chewed and consumed the poor man that was stuck in the cell with her. The Michaels family take Robert to the hospital to get his rat bite looked at and soon finds that it’s a madhouse filled with lots of victims from animal and human attacks.  When news breaks on the TV that those bitten are infected with a more violent version of rabies, Robert has to be quarantined even though he is not showing signs of the infection. Meanwhile all over the world this sickness is spreading, and two drunk hunters are killed by a deer that has been infected! At the lab it’s learned that the animals infected are in fact reanimated corpses and that in humans it speeds up death.  When Patient Zero dies, we will soon find out if she comes back from the dead.

This third issue is very talky and is used to add more light to the plague and what its cause and effects are to humans and animals alike. The lab is where we find out all the information of the plague and with the Michaels Family, we find out that not all who have been bitten turns into a crazed flesh eating maniac. The issue makes you like Robert Michaels and his family even more are they clearly stick together during the bad times and support each other during them. The lab workers and the Army are dragging their feet on really trying to figure out what this plague is and spend more time arguing and chatting than getting down to the dirty work of cracking the code of how to treat and cure it. The issue, while bloody, is nothing too special as we have one infected man shot by the police in the hospital and a deer rams a trucks windshield and impales the hunters inside with his antlers. The cover, while creepy, is not every eye catching, and the art inside done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown once again is just okay and not the style of art I like. This issue is middle of the road, and it took me two sittings just to finish it as I got bored pretty quickly with the lab portions of the issue. So far this series has been okay but not nearly as cool as I was thinking it would be when first seeing the covers.  With that, I am just going to move onto issue four as this third issue was just kind of a filler issue with some long chatting to explain the plague that could have been summed up in about two pages.

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The Final Plague # 4  **1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 4 of 5

In the lab they find out that humans once infected do go into a wild rage of bloodlust, but when they die they do not come back as the virus can not take over mankind’s body structure. While at the hospital Helen Michaels and the kids are watching the news as the world is falling apart and cops and news reporters are being attacked live on air by cats, rats and dogs! The cops at the hospital watch as one of their own outside is killed by a pack of infected zombie dogs that rip him to pieces, and this causes them to lockdown the hospital.  After the dogs bust in through the windows, they are forced to evacuate the hospital and have to leave the infected humans behind, but Robert is taken as he is still not showing any signs of being infected. As the cops clear out the hospital, in Chicago zoo workers Miranda and Austin are still at work protecting the animals when a man who has been bitten enters the zoo and frees the tigers and lions.  The man is eaten by the lions and this infects them.  Now Austin and Miranda are stuck as the infected lions are waiting for them outside.

The action and bloody kills are amped up in the issue as we follow the Michaels Family and the cops who are in the hospital now under attack by crazed dogs who want to kill anything they can get their jaws on. While the lab workers and army know that they must find a way to cure the animals of the world as well as the humans who will die from the bites, but lucky will not come back from the dead. We now add in zoo workers who are stuck at work as giant cats are running wild and infected await them outside. The cops at the hospital are clearly heroes as they are risking their own hides to save people from the hospital.  The down side is they are having to leave some sick patients behind as they are unable to run. The Michaels Family are as likable as ever, but they kind of take a backseat in this issue as they are reunited once the dogs attack the hospital. The lab workers and army also take a back seat and are as bland as before.  While good characters, they are also the ones who sadly have to have the boring talk in order to explain the virus. The zoo workers Miranda and Austin are likable and I hope in the 5th and final issue we get more from them. The best kill of the issue was when the cop outside the hospital is attacked and killed by the dogs that shred him like rice paper in a paper shredder! The one thing I am liking so far about the series is that all the main characters are likable and you find yourself cheering for them to get past all this madness that is happing around them.  I also must say I like the idea of animal zombies on the loose looking for human flesh to eat and infect! The cover on this issue is pretty dang cool and showcases an infected lions around human bones, and for me next to issue # 1, this is what caught my eye and made me want to read this series. The art inside once more is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and looks just like the rest of the issue so far in the mini series. Issue four was leaps and bounds better than issue three, and I can’t wait to see what happens in issue five and how they plan on ending this creepy plague story.

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The Final Plague # 5   *1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 5 of 5

While the lab workers and army are talking about waiting for the CDC and what they can do to try to discover a cure, the facility falls under attack as the animals are freed by a lab doctor who has been infected that leaves rats and monkey that are crazed on the loose and slaughtering any human they can find! The army general and two scientist are the only ones to make it out alive, but they soon find that the world outside is also in bad shape and they are the only ones who have a clue of what the virus is and are the only hope to treat it. While the cops lead the doctors, nurses and Michaels family out of the hospital and get them all to their cars, but the dogs are waiting and kill many of the survivors.  The Michaels family leaves the hospital and soon return to their farm and find that their animals have been killed and infected.  The family’s bull charges wife Helen and son Thomas knocks his mom out of the way and is killed by the bulls horns, as the young man dies in the arms of his family the series comes to an end.

This fifth and final issue is a MAJOR letdown as nothing is answered and there is no real ending to the story as so many questions and characters are left high and dry. The plot of this issue is just to kill off most the army and lab workers during an ape and rat attack that leaves only three survivors, and to get the Michaels Family out of the hospital and away from the dogs and back to the farm and to have the son meet his end by the horns of a infected bull. But here are the things that this final issue left wide open and for this horror comic reader made this series fall apart: What happened to the zoo workers that were trapped by the lions outside? Why is it that Robert Michaels is not being affected by the nasty rat bite to his shoulder, and is he the cure to this outbreak? What is the virus and why is it bringing animals back from the dead? Who is the hooded figure that appears on two of the five covers but never appears in the actual comics? I mean I get it, he is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but come on and put him in an issue at least! And this is just a small amount of issues that are left out in the cold in this final issue and again made this long time horror comic reader very upset and kind of ruined the experience of my read. At the end of the comic they also acted as if the series was going to continue in late 2014, and this never happened as we are now in 2017 and no new issues are slated to be made, making this mini series a dead end read. But I don’t want you all to think that I hated this series as it had some positives: the characters are all likable, the story in the raw is fantastic and could blossom into something really cool if given more time. The characters go through a change as well as The Michaels Family grow together and even have to face heartbreak when one of their own dies.  The cops and army do what they are suppose to do and stand their ground to protect and serve, and the scientists do what they do best, they science and talk about things that bore normal people to tears! The acts of murder and mayhem are well done and the red stuff flows like wine as animals bite and rip flesh and faces are even ripped off! The cover for issue five is pretty great with the hooded plague man holding the body of Thomas Michaels spoiling his death for sure.  The art is once more done by the chaotic style of Tony Guaraldi-Brown, and this wrapped up a comic series I was so hyped to read and even though I feel it let me down slightly I still enjoyed it and would say that fans of films like Day Of The Animals and Wild Beats will enjoy it. Below is some artwork from this series so sit back and enjoy the crazy animals and their killing ways.

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So now that The Final Plague is stagnate waiting for a series to come along and wrap it up, I think we should leave the world of animal viruses behind and step into the squared circle again as we take a look at another pro wrestling icon as we talk about the one and only Kevin Nash! I would also like to take a moment and tell all you readers and friends that if you enjoy comics, make sure to think outside the box of just getting issues from Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse and give companies like Action Lab, IDW, Eibon Press, Sparkle, Rough House, Boom and others a chance as each company is making some amazing stuff.  So again give the independent comic companies a chance as they are sure to entertaining just as much as the bigger companies. 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 for an Oz of a good time or is that Diesel of a good time?

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NES Challenge: The Adventures of Bayou Billy

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! I am sure you’re wondering why we are here in the bayou of Louisiana in the middle of gator ally.  Well, we are here waiting on the one and only Bayou Billy! So you readers know what that means, we are at another NES Challenge.  This time around we will be playing The Adventures Of Bayou Billy on the good old RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) to see if I can beat it once and for all! Bayou Billy is a game for the Nintendo that almost every kid I knew owned, and not a one of them could beat it much like Dick Tracy and Goonies II that seemed almost impossible to beat and made for many hours of frustrating play. My cousin Stephen Alexander hates this game as he also has never beat it and in fact can barely get off the first level, and he is a pretty good old school NES game player with over the last few years beating such titles as The Karate Kid, Monster In My Pocket, Jaws, Karnov, Metal Fighter and Super Mario Bros, to name a few. So as you can see I have a pretty tough challenge ahead, but I am up for it as for this play through I am going to pig out on Cajun style food and drink to get me into the mindset of Billy! So let’s watch out for gators and see if we can lend a hand to Bayou Billy as he tries to save his lady from the evil grasp of Godfather Gordon!

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In 1989 Konami unleashed The Adventures of Bayou Billy onto the masses in North America, and a cult game was born. The game is a hybrid of side scrolling beat-‘em up, jeep driving and light gun shooter that follows Billy from level to level as he fights his way through a total of 9 of them. The plot of this adventure is pretty simple: you take control of Billy West, a former U.S. soldier turned vigilante who goes by the name Bayou Billy who is going up against crime boss Godfather Gordon’s smuggling operation.  For this, the crime lord kidnaps his girlfriend Annabelle Lane! This of course is a trap and leads Billy on a butt kicking New Orleans high stakes adventure to get her back and to stop Godfather Gordon’s reign of terror. The game was originally released in Japan in 1988 by Konami under the title “Mad City.”  When coming to America, the game went through some changes as they decided to make the game way harder, added in voices and laughter plus changed some background layouts & colors! The game was a pretty big hit for the NES and is one that most kids of the late 80’s had in their game collection.

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I first learned of The Adventures Of Bayou Billy thanks to TV commercials that aired on TV during Saturday Morning Cartoons as well as after school toons and can remember being pretty hyped to play the game as the hero reminded me of the movie character Crocodile Dundee. My parents decided that we did not need The Adventures Of Bayou Billy in our collection and did not buy our household a copy, but lucky for me, neighborhood kid brothers Jeremy and Aaron did and they would invite me over to play the game or try to as I can remember it being so hard that it became almost a challenge between us to try and beat it…we as young kids failed. The next run in with The Adventures Of Bayou Billy came when my cousins Dino and Norman had the game, and once more we played it and failed and I even borrowed it from them to try and beat it and could not even get to the final battle with Godfather Gordon. When I was older, I ended up buying a copy of the game from a second had store around here called Replay Media, and this time around my good pal Jason Gilmore and I tried to beat it and just like before, we failed…so as you can see, failure and Bayou Billy go hand and hand for me as a gamer. And just last year I bought a copy of the game complete in box from Amazon just for this update, cause now at 37 years old I am looking forward to trying to beat this game for the first time…but to be honest I would be surprised if by the end of the day I get to the end screen…I know I have no faith in my abilities of being an old school player. Check out below for a look at the copy of the game I will be playing as well as its box and booklet.

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The Adventures Of Bayou Billy TV commercial was one I remember as it had an actor playing Billy in the heart of the swamp wrestling with an alligator all the while he was telling us about the game play of it being three styles in one from side scroller, to driving to shooter, all the while doing a terrible and over the top bad Cajun accent. The alligator in most shots was a rubber one with one close up of a real one. This overly done and cheesy commercial worked on the youth at the time as it made this game a must have for kids as Konami built it up to be so grand that we just had to have it to impress our friends and to be cool on the playground.  Not to mention that we had to try to beat the amazing adventure that awaited us. Video game commercials like this were a great way for companies to get the attention of the youth who would see it and talk about it at school and with friends building a buzz around the game that caused many kids to bug their parents enough to get it. Nowadays I feel like YouTube and sites like IGN are the tools that spread the hype and game trailers to the target audiences. If you feel like having a good flashback or even want to see the commercial for the first time, check it out on YouTube and be ready for a laughable good 31 seconds with the one and only Bayou Billy.

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Besides the TV commercial, Konami pushed Bayou Billy by running sales on the hit game in toy store ads like Children’s Palace, Toys R Us and Kaybee Toys making it easier for kids to get the game by showing their parents the marked down sale price. They also made a handheld version to give young gamers another way to play the game besides on the NES and to get more money from what they saw as a franchise I am sure. Thinking about it now, I wonder why Konami never made a sequel to Bayou Billy as it would have been neat to have seen the character make the leap to the Super Nintendo or even the Sony Playstation. But any chance of Bayou Billy making a return with a new game on any video game systems is slim to none as Konami is a shell of a company they use to be and many of their workers have left them as they are focusing on gambling machines mostly…so sad.

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Bayou Billy also made the leap to the cartoon world as he appeared in two episodes of the 1989 cartoon series “Captain N: The Game Master” and was resident of Bayouland in the Videoland universe. In the cartoon, Billy had a pet gator named Loafer and helped main character Kevin Keene learn to survive in the swamp land as his game was one that Kevin could never beat, sounds like the story of many gamers’ lives. The episodes that Billy appeared in were called “How’s Bayou” and “Having A Ball,” and this once more showed that both Konami and Nintendo really wanted to push this game and title character to the moon by even adding him to their popular video game themed cartoon. The Billy character in the cartoon acted like the movie character Crocodile Dundee and this was a plan again, to help push the character as Mick Dundee was very popular in pop culture at the time. If you want to see these episodes, make sure to check out the Captain N: The Game Master complete series DVD boxset put out by Shout Factory, but be warned, it is out of print and carries a high price.

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Before we get to the NES Challenge and the Archie Comics Bayou Billy comic reviews, I would like to take a moment to take a look at the band Zebra and their first album that was self-titled as they were formed in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1975 and fit perfectly for this bayou themed update! The band members are Randy Jackson, who is the vocalist and guitarist, Guy Gelso on drums and Felix Hanemann on keyboards and bass, and this line up is still going to this day! They built their name playing clubs around Long Island, New York and covered songs by bands like Rush, Led Zeppelin and The Moody Blues, and this got the attention of Atlantic Records who signed them and released their self-titled album in 1983 making it a huge hit for the company and band. Over the years they released a few more albums via Atlantic like No Tellin’ Lies (1984), 3.V (1986) and Live (1990), but none of them did as well as their first release.  They were dropped in the early 90’s from Atlantic and took a break as a band while Randy Jackson made a side band he called Randy Jackson’s China Rain, but fans would be happy when Zebra would return in 1997 and in 2003 would release their final studio album to date Zebra IV. While not a band that is a household name, Zebra is still active and rocking clubs in New York and New Orleans showing that this band knows how to rock.

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I decided to cruise around Kettering, Ohio in my 2004 Ford Mustang and listen to Zebra’s 1983 release, and on this day the weather was chilly with slight rain and the sound of Zebra was fitting for the smooth and peaceful ride. The first thing I noticed about this album is that it has a weird mix of styles.  The best way I can describe it is if you mixed bands like Keel, Asia, Alan Parsons Project and slightly Cinderella into a blender and poured it all into a glass that had the logo of the band Fastway on it! With that said, this is my type of rock n roll as I enjoy the sounds of 80’s rock, and singer Randy Jackson has the pipes much like Ron Keel of Keel and Dave King of Fastway. Many of the tracks on the disc are solid and great tunes with the two most famous tracks off the disc being the best and those are Who’s Behind The Door? and Tell Me What You Want with the latter being my favorite as it is catchy and has great guitar rifts. Another great track is Take Your Fingers From My Hair, a ballad that is soothing and well structured, so much so that band Dream Theater even did a cover of it back in 2009. I don’t want to spend too much time on this CD, but if you enjoy good clean 80’s metal, make sure to check this disc out as it’s a good one.

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I selected the day January 24, 2017 for my showdown with Adventures Of Bayou Billy, and for this epic day of another NES Challenge, I decided I needed food and drinks that fit the New Orleans bayou theme of the game. Juliet, whose family is from Louisiana, bought me some snacks that are favorites for the bayou like Zapp’s Potato Chips, and to drink I stuck to my classic ice water. She made some chicken and sausage jambalaya as sadly I am allergic to shrimp, and it slowly cooked in the crockpot. The weather outside was grey and cloudy with slight rain with the high of only 45 degrees so it was perfect to sit inside and try and beat this classic Nintendo game! Below is a picture of the jambalaya and Zapp’s that we ate during this epic NES Challenge.

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I started my quest to beat this game at 12:00pm in the mindset that I had to beat this game as it has tormented me for years, but I must also say that doubt also was lingering as the visions of just how hard the game is kept creeping in as did the failure of my last NES Challenge of trying to beat Werewolf The Last Warrior. But I shook those thoughts off and fired up the RES, took the controller in my hands and began my quest to save Annabelle Lane from that evil crime lord Godfather Gordon! To my surprise, after only a few tries I was able to defeat the first level only dying a few times kicking at the alligators and moved onto the second level that was an easy shooter where I had to take on a helicopter while using my d-pad for the gun. The third level was the start of me having a real hard time with the stage boss who is big, mean, and ready to fling Billy around like a rag doll. After losing on stage 3 and wasting all my continues, I took a break and watched Hatchet III for the second time to keep with the New Orleans bayou feel of the day. I jumped back into my quest to save Annabelle after the movie, and I failed really hard as I was not in the groove and kept dying on stage one! I walked away for a moment, and Juliet gave it a shot and sadly she didn’t last long as she allowed Billy to be beat worst than S.D. Jones against King Kong Bundy in a WWF Wrestling match! I cleared my head of the butt whooping I had just taken, and after taking a deep breath, I turned on the RES for the last time of the day and got into the zone of trying like hell to help Bayou Billy get his girlfriend back! I started out strong once again kicking the crap out of the bad guys who are just hit sponges who take way too many hits, and after losing my cool after cheap enemy hits I came to the conclusion that this game is just way too hard for no reason and instead of busting a blood vessel to try and beat it I would rather just turn off the RES and sit back and relax and read some comics because this game was not worth the anger it induces.  All joking aside, this game was just too hard for this aging gamer to beat in one day. But with that said, I must say that the Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtators potato chips and the homemade jambalaya were fantastic and made this day of defeat a heck of a lot better!

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To no surprise I was unable to beat The Adventures of Bayou Billy as I find it to be one of the hardest games in the whole Nintendo library! But I need to give a shout out to all the henchmen and crazed animals who all tried their best to keep me away from their boss. I need to show some respect to Godfather Gordon, that man who made this adventure so hard to beat not only because of his toughness but also his ability to hire the right muscle to keep me and Billy at bay! I also need to speak about Gordon’s bodyguards Rocky and Rocco who show their power by stopping you into the ground like you were just a tiny ant under their boot. In other words, all these bad guys do their jobs of making this game almost impossible to beat very well! So here is to all of them for making this old school gamer once more walk away from his RES a defeated man.

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So while beating the game was a complete bust, I still was able to enjoy some good bayou style food and a fun filled silly day of playing a classic NES game on my RES while hanging out with my girlfriend Juliet! I also want to thank Konami for making this classic game because while it has tormented me for years, it still has added entertainment to my life. But now it’s time to tackle the Archie Comics series based on this video game that thanks to the team up of Lone Star Comics, Darkstar and Bell, Book and Comic I was able to collect, read and review for this NES Challenge Update. And as Bayou Billy dusts himself off after the butt kicking we both just took, he wants me 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, its entertainment value and its art and story. So grab your giant Crocodile Dundee knife and let’s head back into the swamps and this time enjoy some comic books based on this video game adventurer Bayou Billy.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 1 of 5

Bayou Billy is on his way to testify in court when he stops some street punks from robbing an old couple on vacation from New Jersey. Once in court the words Billy says and the fact he can point out the perpetrator who started some wicked fires named Hurricane Hank, leads to the pyro to be found guilty, and along with Assistant District Attorney Annabel Lee he is able to get one of Godfather Gordon’s henchmen off the streets. That night Annabel gets an anonymous call to meet some people who have the dirt on the Gordon Crime family only to find herself the target of a hit that leaves her shot and wounded, but luckily she knows karate and is able to steal the hitmen’s boat and finds herself weak at the doorstep of Bayou Billy’s home deep in the swamp. Godfather Gordon is mad at his son Rock Gordon for botching the hit as now they know Billy is now at her side. Rocco Gordon, Godfather’s stepson, comes up with an idea to send their mercenary team F.I.S.T to kill not only Annabel and Bayou Billy but also his Delta Force friends who were heading to the home to join their friend in the approaching war. Bayou Billy is joined by trap master Broadside, Tracker a Native America tracker and fighter and lastly the eye-patch wearing Sureshot who is a master of the bow and arrow and together they protect Annabel and defeat the likes of Mr. T.N.T and Cut Throat. In the end the battle leaves Bayou Billy’s swamp home destroyed but he and his team have mopped up some of Gordon’s top henchmen and saved the town’s Assistant District Attorney who is now out to get Godfather Gordon in a jail cell.

This first issue sets the groundwork that Bayou Billy is a bounty hunter who once was a Delta Force solider who still has war buddies and is a legend around New Orleans as criminals think that he can not be killed and will not die…hey wait, just like The Phantom! The story for this issue is that Annabel Lee has become a target of the Gordon Crime Family as she has been very outspoken about their crimes.  This leaves her the target of a hit that she is lucky to escape from, getting help from the town’s hero Bayou Billy who along with his own team are ready to tackle crime and bring it down. Bayou Billy is a little cocky yet very loyal and committed to doing the right thing.  You can tell he has a crush on Annabel Lee, who doesn’t have the same feelings for him. He has no fear and tackles trouble head on laughing off threats from baddies. His Delta Force buddies Sure Shot, Tracker and Broadside are loyal friends and clearly guys Billy can depend on for the coming turf war. Godfather Gordon and his two sons Rock and Rocco are pure evil crime lords who have their hand in all types of crimes and don’t care who they kill in order to get what they need and want. Their elite team called F.I.S.T is made up of all types of criminals from the hitmen Cut Throat and Creole all the way to helicopter pilot and gunner Wild Bill.  But while they are all skilled at what they do, they are just out classed by Billy and his group. Annabel Lee is a woman who wants to use the justice system to put criminals away and does a great job at doing so; she is also pretty and can defend her self as she as a green belt in martial arts. Over all this is a fun kid friendly adventure comic that takes some liberties with the video game it’s based on.  One of the major changes is that Rock and Rocco are the sons of Godfather Gordon and not his bodyguards. But while changes like that might upset The Adventures of Bayou Billy diehard fans, I can look over it, as I found they mixed action, drama, crime and war comic well to make for a kids comic that packs a gator sized bite. The cover is great and is a more cartoonish version of the NES cover box.  The interior art done by Amanda Connor is fantastic and she helps bring Bayou Billy to life on the comic pages. I should also note that The Adventures of Bayou Billy is apart of the Archie Adventure Series line and joined its place in history along side other titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, The Fly, Sonic The Hedgehog and ManTech Robot Warriors for delivering quality comics aimed toward early teen readers. But with issue # 1 being a great read, I am looking forward to seeing what issue # 2 has in store for us.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 2  **1/2
Released in 1989   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 2 of 5

That firebug Hurricane Hank is having nightmares in prison about his last run-in with Bayou Billy that not only landed him in jail but also minus a hand! He wants so badly to get out of jail and get his revenge once and for all and must come up with a plan. Meanwhile Bayou Billy pays Godfather Gordon a visit, and after roughing him up, is able to get money to build a new house as his F.I.S.T agents blew up his last one so Billy finds it fair that the crime boss pays to build him a new one. Worse for our heroes is that the whole F.I.S.T group is freed, and Hurricane Hank does escape jail and sets into motion a scheme to kill Bayou Billy! Tracker however followed Hurricane Hank and alerts Billy as the Gordons alert Annabel Lee to where he is hiding as they find their one time henchman too much of a loose cannon now. Bayou Billy knows it’s a trap and shares a story with Annabel from his Delta Force years about how he was set up by a Gordon back then that left him dead for a short time and was only brought back thanks to the effort of his friends.  He shares the story of the second time he was dead and saved when a hitman sent by Godfather Gordon named Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill used a nerve gas that took his breath away.  If not for an old man living in the bayou named Papa Jambo, he would have once more been in a grave. Bayou Billy takes Annabel Lee to his friend Grease Monkey and her garage as he goes after Hurricane Hank.  A battle breaks out that leaves a warehouse burnt down, Bayou Billy bruised and sore and Hurricane Hank once more on the losing end of life.

This second bayou adventure is a fun kid friendly read that loses the charm of issue # 1 slightly as this one just was kind of middle of the road and comes off as almost a watered down version of a Dick Tracy story. The plot is: a criminal who Bayou Billy put away and cost him to lose one of his hands escapes jail more crazy than ever. and his madness to get revenge is what leads to his downfall. Hurricane Hank is a man who had slipped into madness as he is plagued with nightmares of losing his hand and every moment of his life is used plotting the death of Bayou Billy and setting the world on fire. While once a respected henchman for Godfather Gordon, his mental state has even made the crime family turn on him. Plus his ego gets the better of him as when he had Bayou Billy down for the count and could have fried him like chicken on a boat, he instead chooses to try and kill our hero with his bare hands that just leads to him being out smarted and out classed and at the bottom of the water. Godfather Gordon as well as his sons and F.I.S.T stay out of this fight and pretty much lay low after the last beating they took, but Godfather does at least call in a tip so that Hurricane Hank can be found with the hope he and Billy will just kill each other! Tracker, Broadside and Sure Shot act as distractions so Billy can get Hurricane Hank and each play their part well.  We also meet Grease Monkey, the cute redhead female mechanic and friend of the Delta Force group who works on their trucks and boats. Annabel Lee is now clearly in love with Bayou Billy and is still trying her best to put the Gordon crime family behind bars, but is faced with lots of setbacks and bribes to judges. I also enjoyed Papa Jambo who not only saved Bayou Billy from death but also taught him all his tricks of the trade in the swamps. The fights in the issue between Hurricane Hank and Bayou Billy are great and reminded me a lot of classic comic book fights you would have seen in Mighty Crusaders and other independent hero comics. The cover is just okay with the black lines being used as shadows on Bayou Billy being a little cheesy.  The interior art is also a little off and is done by a team up of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito who both normally do great work. While this issue is just okay, I did have a good time reading it and enjoyed the idea that Konami and Archie Comics put time and thought into trying to make this comic series based on a video game work. Well let’s see what issue three has in store for us. Oh and I have to say, I want to know more about Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill ,the man who killed Bayou Billy for the second time and wore a trench coat, a hat and a gasmask!

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 3 of 5

The New Orleans Police Department is having a heck of a time trying to break down a man named Blackie Blue who is in fact really a creature that is part human and part ferret thanks to a scientist to did an experiment on him while on death row in prison! After Blackie makes short work of the cops, he rushes away and the job of finding him goes to Tracker, Sure Shot and Broadside as Bayou Billy goes out on his own to try and find Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, the man who killed him many years back. But when Billy joins his friends, he soon finds out that Blackie Blue is as strong as an ox and escapes our heroes with ease. Later Bayou Billy and Annabel Lee meet up and return to Billy’s new home paid for by Godfather Gordon’s money, and they are as well visited by Tracker, Broadside and Sure Shot and plan to talk over a cup of coffee when Blackie Blue attacks and pulls Billy underwater almost killing him if not for the help of the alligators of the swamp who attack and keep Blackie at bay! As Billy fills his lungs with air and warms up, Annabel Lee comes up with a plan to capture both Blackie Blue and Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill by pitting them against each other! Bayou Billy likes the idea and sets up the trap that works as a charm as Gaskill is knocked silly by a mighty punch and Blackie is knocked out via gas grenades and all Billy has to do is cuff them and bring them to face justice. In the end as Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is in court he escapes thanks to a smoke grenade and a terrible lawyer who allowed him to get his hands on one.

This issue’s plot has Bayou Billy on a mission of revenge as he wants to bring down Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, a hitman who was hired to kill many years back, but to add to the madness an inmate that had been experimented on has escaped and is now more beast like and he has his sights on killing Billy! The two fights between Bayou Billy and Blackie Blue are one sided as the beast man is way stronger and has raw animal instincts to kill his targeted prey making you really feel as if our hero could be taken down! Blackie’s fight with Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is also pretty much one sided as the beast pushes through the madman’s gas attacks in order to knock him silly and only after he complete his goal does he fall. In this issue Bayou Billy is as noble as ever but does have the nagging want for revenge that keeps him off the case of the major threat at the time as he wanted to stop his old foe who had been laying low for years. Plus I like the fact that Bayou Billy is very loyal to his friends as well as his girlfriend and that they all hang out not only in town but also in the swamp…that’s what I call friendship goals! Blackie Blue is an interesting bad guy as when human he had an accident that dyed his skin and hair blue and it’s hinted that Batman was responsible and that his partner in crime was The Joker! Blackie was on death row and because he didn’t want to die, he was chosen to be a subject in a experiment that turned him into a wereferret that has raw power and the need to kill his prey! As the beast Blackie’s appearance is this blue fur all over, sharp teeth and claws and wearing a prison jumpsuit.  For Wolf Hunter 2 fans, think Panthor. Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill on the other hand has a hideout in a shack near an old farmhouse and is still toying with making new gas grenades and is taken by surprise when he is attacked by Blackie, but is smart enough to escape in court. This issue was lots of fun and had just the right amount of action, adventure and even a dash of horror to keep this 37-year-old comic reader entertained. The cover is pretty cool and showcases the horror element with a dash of late 80’s Marvel Spider-Man cover appeal, and the art inside is solid again and done by the team of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito again showing that they work very well with each other. We are three issues in and over all Archie Comics as part of there Adventure Series is doing a great job of making this Konami video game character a very fun comic one, well worth reading, and I can’t wait to see what the next issue brings.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 4  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 4 of 5

Bayou Billy is having a nightmare about the death of his first wife Laurie who was blown up with a car bomb that was meant for him.  The hit was placed on him by one of the Gordon family and after quitting his job as a New Orleans police officer, he became the bounty hunter he is today…that was two years ago to the day and he still wants answers to who wanted him dead. Once more he gears up and sets out to look for Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill whom he thinks might have the answers and heads to a rough bar called the Rue Morgue.  A lead brings him to loan shark enforcer Two-Head McGraw and after a brief fight, they send him to a slimy man named Snitch who spills his guts that Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is hiding in an old chemical plant. Bayou Billy shows up and tries to get the jump on his old enemy only to find himself on the receiving end of a gas bomb that leaves him disorientated! Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill goes to Grease Monkey’s garage and knocks out the young mechanic and steals one of Billy’s monster trucks.  Once Billy awakens to try and find Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, he is attacked with his own truck! But with the aid of a can of red paint and good luck, Billy is able to trick Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill and use his own jeep as a bomb that leaves the killer gas man at the mercy of Bayou Billy who gets the name of the man who placed the bomb that killed his wife.  It’s Hurricane Hank, the man who drowned two issues back, but with this shattering news he also has delivered Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill to the cops and justice….but through out his adventure a shadow figure has been following him!

This issue works really well as we get a good background on to why Bayou Billy does what he does and why he hates the Gordon crime family so much.  Plus his reasons are legit as they tried to not only kill him but killed his wife! Bayou Billy has spent the last two years of his life hunting down criminals in the big easy all to find out who of the Gordon’s paid for the bomb to be placed that killed his wife, and sadly at the end of the issue he does not get the answer he seeks. Also packed into this issue are many of the criminals who work for the Gordon Crime Family like Snitch a skinny eye glass wearing weasel of a man who will spill his guts for the right price, Two-Head McGraw who are joined twins who act as muscle for Rock Gordon when people cant pay pack the loans he has given them, and lastly Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill who we all know is the gas mask wearing killer who tried to murder Bayou Billy a few years back. All the bad guys are pains in the butt this issue but all fall to the hands of Bayou Billy who is a man on a mission to get answers. Grease Monkey, the female mechanic and friend of Bayou Billy, also comes into play as she is attacked by Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill who knocks her out and steals one of the monster trucks she has in storage.  Lucky for her, she was not killed. This issue is packed with drama but also an equal amount of action making for one heck of a good kid friendly comic read! The cover on this issue is a little downbeat with Billy at the grave of his wife, and I am sure scared some parents away from buying the issue for their child. The interior art was done once more by the team of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito and is great as always.  In fact, the month this issue was released, Amanda Connor was Archie’s Artist of the Month, way to go Amanda! Over all this was a great issue and worth reading for sure, now sadly we are at the last issue in the comic series based on The Adventures Of Bayou Billy.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 5  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 5 of 5

Bayou Billy robs criminal La Rue and his henchmen Mitts and Slugger of a briefcase filled with dirty money, and now he is wanted for questioning by the local law.  This shocks his friends Tracker, Sureshot and Broadside as they don’t know why Billy did it! Also at this time, fellow bounty hunter Black Gator is very upset that the media only pays attention to Bayou Billy and wants to shutdown his competition permanently! We soon find out that Godfather Gordon has hired Schwartz N. Eiger, a criminal ex-soap opera actor to play as Bayou Billy and pull off the crime so that his enemy will take the rap for the crime and be out of their hair for awhile.  Meanwhile Billy himself is having bad dreams about a black gator and is under arrest for a crime he did not commit when he wakes up, but lucky for Billy he has some tricks up his sleeve and escapes the cops only to run into Black Gator who wants to kill Bayou Billy to prove he is the best bounty hunter.  All the while Godfather Gordon is watching as it all comes to a head when Bayou Billy, Black Gator, The Cops, La Rue and Schwartz N. Eiger all meet up at an abandoned theater where Billy clears his name and comes out the winner in the fight with Black Gator.

This final issue was clearly not intended to be so as many questions are still left unanswered like how will Bayou Billy get his revenge of the Godfather Gordon family for putting a hit on him that backfired and killed his wife as well as many bad guys are still out in the world including Black Gator who clearly wants to kill Billy and ruin his reputation at being the best bounty hunter in the bayou. But with that said, I must also say this issue has a fun vibe to it as it pits our hero Bayou Billy against a Black Gator, a man who wears a ninja outfit and is as skilled as he is in fighting! Plus throw in washed up actor Schwartz N. Eiger as well as smaller crime lord La Rue and his baseball dressed bodyguards Mitts and Slugger and you have a recipe for a fun kid friendly crime caper. This issue as well is really cool as many of the faces of the past issues are around like his mentor Papa Jambo as well as Godfather Gordon and his sons making this a cool send off for the comic series. Bayou Billy is a solid character who is badass when he needs to be as well as a quick thinker when the time calls for mind over muscle.  I also like that while he kicks the crap out of people he is also shown getting his head knocked around to making him a more believable character than many comic heroes based on video games. Tracker, Sureshot, Grease Monkey and Broadside are all great sidekick characters who help add to the story as well as each have their own generic yet so good personalities. Annabel Lee is a cool character as she is not only a lawyer but also Billy’s girlfriend and not a female character that is always needing to be saved by the hero! Godfather Gordon and his sons Rock and Rocco are slimy, and you want to see them get theirs.  They also employee so many colorful and odd mercenaries & scumbags like Schwartz N. Eiger, Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, Hurricane Hank and Wild Bill to name a few! Not to mention this series had some other cool bad guy characters like Black Gator and the werewolf-like Blackie Blue both who were foes that Billy had a hard time with. I think the best fight in the whole series took place in this issue as the Billy and Black Gator’s fight was epic and was what comic book fists fights are all about. The cover for this issue is good and reminds me of something you would have seen on a Marvel Comics G.I. Joe cover. The art inside is solid once more and is done by Amanda Connor and her partner in crime for this final issue Robert Downs, and it’s great kids comic work. Over all Adventures of Bayou Billy was a very good kid comic series that showcased a Nintendo game character in a great way and gave him even more of a personality, and I am sure it drove some comic readers into buying the game, just like the game forced people to look into buying the comic. I for one wished the series had more issues as I enjoyed reading this for the first time for many of the issues and again for others. Check out the art below for a sample of what you will see if you read this comic series.

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While I might have failed at beating The Adventures of Bayou Billy on my RES, I did get a victory in getting to read the Archie Comic adventures based on the character! I am also very shocked that this game never did get a sequel as like I said, many kids I knew owned it and for the most part it’s a pretty beloved game for many old school gamers. But for our next update, we are going to be leaving the bayou and heading into the world of animals running wild with the taste for human flesh as we take a look at the Action Lab: Danger Zone series The Final Plague! So until next time friends and readers, play a video game or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host.  See you in about 10 days!

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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Sleepstalker

Nothing is better than a good night’s sleep as your body and mind really does need it to recharge, and it allows your mind to drift into pleasant dreams and sinister nightmares. Being 37 years old now, I have had several dreams or is that nightmares that have been recurring ones.  One had to do with Freddy Kruger from the A Nightmare On Elm Street series chasing me up stairs and around the basement in our old house on Muriel Ave.  The second had me at school in Waynesville, and the hall monitors were the Gamorrean Guards (Pig Guards) from Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi who were very mean and would shove and punch you in the arms. Growing up, I was told of a magical being called Mr. Sandman who is responsible for your slumber, listened to the song Mr. Sandman sung by The Chordettes, boxed Mr. Sandman in the Nintendo video game series Punch Out, read about Spider-Man beating The Sandman on the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man comics and watched him get beat up by Jean-Claude Van Damme in the 1990 film Death Warrant, but I also knew him as the killer in the 1995 direct to video film Sleepstalker.  This master of the killing arts will be the topic for today’s quick and bloody “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update, so sit back and drink some warm milk or sleepy time tea as we go on a dream slasher spree with The Sandman from the film Sleepstalker and the Malibu comic based around it. So ready or not, The Sandman is on the prowl here at Rotten Ink and he has a bedtime story to tell you all….

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So before we get too far into this update, we need to take a look and understand the killer of this independent horror flick. The Sandman is a serial killer who puts families to sleep, even dropping sand over their dying faces and sings bed time nursery rhymes. His targets were families with 7 years old kids and his motives were unknown at the time of his capture, but soon thanks to The Preacher we find out The Sandman must kill his last victim, his brother! His lips are scared from being sewn shut when he was a kid by an abusive father, and his face is thin with evil intentions.  He is truly a walking nightmare with a sick reality brewing in his twisted brain. After being captured and 17 years after his crimes, The Sandman is being executed by the gas chamber but is given immortality and demonic power thanks to a voodoo priest, but he can only keep the powers if he can kill his last victim that lead to his arrest. As the demonic Sandman, he is sand based and can turn into a piles of sand and morph into his human form. His weaknesses are water, as it washes away his sand body and can hurt him, and sunlight. He is cold, calculated and thinks his killings are justified and takes pleasure in them. While abused as a child and saving his baby brother from the abuse as an adult, he now wants to kill his brother and become the force of evil he thinks he should be. The Sandman can use the sand that makes up his body to morph into places, kill his victims and when heated up can use his body as glass to shank and kill. Sinister and calculated, this serial killer is on a mission to become even more evil and seems to not have a care in the world as to how many must die for him to achieve it.

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So now you know why and how The Sandman kills, so we should now move onto the film Sleepstalker that spawned this sand based killer. We will take the film’s plot from our good friends at IMDB, and we will learn not only about its story but also who directed it, the stars of the film as well as my first time viewing it. So grip your pillow a little tighter as we are about to drift deeper into this nightmare Horror film.

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Sleepstalker  (1995)

Seventeen years after slaughtering all but one member of a family, a vicious serial killer known only as “The Sandman” awaits execution. But first, his jailers allow a minister to visit the killer to give him last rites, unaware that the minister is a voodoo priest and an ally of the condemned prisoner. The priest places a hex on the Sandman so that when he is executed, his soul migrates into a new body made of sand. To sever his ties with his former life and achieve absolute power, the sandman must find and kill a man named Griffin, the sole survivor of the last family murdered by the killer.

In 1995, a movie was released direct to video that was directed by Turi Meyer who also directed horror film “Candyman: Day Of The Dead” as well as episodes for TV shows like “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Smallville,” and the film I am talking about today is Sleepstalker. The film stars Jay Underwood as Griffin the hero, Kathryn Morris plays damsel in distress Megan, Ken Foree plays a police detective, Peter Mark Vasquez plays a street gang leader, Michael D. Roberts played the sinister Preacher and Michael Harris plays the killer The Sandman. I can remember this film playing on Cinemax when I was a kid as well as sitting on the shelves at Video Rental stores like West Coast Video, K & L Video and Blockbuster Video on VHS. The first time I watched it was on cable and can remember just how cheesy it, was and yet for some reason enjoyed it as I found the story to be a mix of Candyman, Dust Devil and Nightmare On Elm Street rolled together in one low budget package. My brother taped it on VHS off Cinemax, and on one lazy weekend evening we gave it a watch.  I can remember it being one we both said was okay but nothing too special, and it was quickly forgotten by me until it finally came to DVD thanks to Lions Gate. 1995, the year this film was released, had many other great horror films released and by all accounts this one was just lost in the shuffle as films like “Halloween 6: Curse Of Michael Myers”, “Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight”, “Castle Freak”, “Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh”, “Howling VII: New Moon Rising”, “Leprechaun 3” and “Embrace Of The Vampire.” The film was meet with poor reviews as many fans and critics thought the film had too many plot holes and that the killer’s motives were too close to those of Michael Myers of Halloween as he as well was on a quest to kill his sibling. The film was left open for a sequel as The Preacher finds the burnt up remains of The Sandman and begins his voodoo chants, but the sequel was never made as the powers to be in Hollywood seemed to not want a sequel. Another very interesting fact about this film was that also in 1995 independent filmmaker J.R. Bookwalter made a film called “The Sandman” about a dream demon who killed people in a trailer park as they slept…two horror films with The Sandman name as the killer made for fans of night terror themed horror films very happy. So say what you will about Sleepstalker, while it might have flaws it sure is a fun watch on a cold October night or for your own horror movie marathon.

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I have been a comic book reader and a horror film watcher for as long as I can remember, and besides garage sales, Big Bear and the antique stores in town, I always got my comics from Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and never in my quests for comics did I know that Malibu Comics released a comic based on Sleepstalker.  I did not learn about this comic until 2016 thanks to Lone Star Comics who had it in stock and made this update possible. That’s one thing I love about the world of comics and horror films there are so many of them out in the world have yet to be read and watched by me, and I love to discover issues like this as I am a fan of comics based on horror films. But slumber is calling and these sheep are not going to count themselves and these logs will not saw alone so The Sandman is demanding that I tell you that I grade this issue 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 to see if this comic that acts as a set up to the film holds any thrills or chills, I know I am ready!

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Sleepstalker: Sandman’s Last Rites # 1  **1/2
Released in 1995     Cover Price $2.20     Malibu Comics     # 1 of 1

Griffin sits alone in his apartment with a gun in his hand, he is scared as he knows that the supernatural killer The Sandman is on his way to kill him like he tried many years ago. He remembers back to when he was a young kid and The Sandman selected his family’s home to kill his mother and father all the while threatening him with permanent sleep and singing nursery rhymes. Griffin remembers back how a cop showed up just in time and arrested The Sandman who promised he would be back to finish what he started with Griffin, and now as an adult he knows that The Sandman is no longer a man but a demonic killer who’s body is made of sand and is heading his way. The Sandman meanwhile is using his sand abilities to kill a couple walking down the street as well as a taxi driver who drops him off at Griffin’s apartment. In the end The Sandman stands in the street in front of Griffin’s building and warns the young man he is there to kill him.

This promo comic acts as a way to hype the film to those who were thinking about renting it from their local video rental store. The plot has our hero and survivor of a murder attempt remembering back to the time of his life when he was the target of a madman, and we also follow that madman now on his way to kill the youngster he targeted 17 years before. Griffin is a man who is haunted by his past as he not only was being stalked by a killer but also seen the bodies of his parents that were murdered before his eyes, well at least his mother was. He knows that guns will not save his life this time as the once human killer is something more now. The Sandman is a killer who while human enjoyed singing, killing and covering the eyes with sand of his victims and even now as a demonic killer he still enjoys those things in undead life. His hatred and obsession with Griffin in this promo comic is unknown but as a reader you just pick up on the fact he hates him and wants him dead. This comic is only10 pages long and just acts as a way to bring the start of the film into the comic world and add its own twist to the lore the film set up. One funny change is that The Sandman instead of turning into a sand storm decides to take a cab to get to Griffin’s house…why would he take a cab? Imagine Jason Voorhees taking an uber ride to Crystal Lake or even Tall Man taking the RTA to the funeral home…just silly. The comic is bloodless but does have some kills with the best being the death of a couple that stumble across The Sandman who uses the sand to engulf them. The cover is pretty eye catching and is the films direct to video poster done with a comic layout twist, the art inside is done by Rob Davis and looks pretty good and is so fitting for the Malibu Comic style of comics. In fact Rob Davis also did work on such comics as “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Pirates Of Dark Water” and “Scimidar” and has a true 90’s comic feel to his work. While this Horror Comic is not ground breaking and is clearly only for fans of the film, I found it a good read and was cool to see The Sandman do what he does best and that’s sing and kill this time as a comic book character. Check out the artwork below for the style of this comic. And again if you are a fan of this film or just love to read comics based on horror films check it out, if you are neither of those, I would say avoid it.

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So the alarm clock on this update is about to go off, and the world of terror of The Sandman is coming to an end and it brings us to the finish of this look at Sleepstalker and the Malibu Comic based on it. But next we are still staying in the world of horror as we will once more look at an Undead File based around a micro budget comic called Zombies From Hell! So until we meet again on the next update watch a horror film or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host…pleasant dreams readers and friends!!

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