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!

the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-cool-promo-art

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.

the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-nes-screen-1the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-nes-box-coverthe-adventures-of-bayou-billy-nes-screen-2

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.

my-the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-nes-in-box

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.

the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-commercial-1the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-commercial-2the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-commercial-3

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.

kb-toys-ad-the-adventures-of-bayou-billythe-adventures-of-bayou-billy-handheldthe-adventures-of-bayou-billy-gordon

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.

captain-n-the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-cartoon-1captain-n-the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-cartoon-2captain-n-the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-cartoon-3

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.

zebra-band

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.

zebra-cd

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.

jambalaya-and-zapps

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!

bayou-billy-stage-2bayou-billy-in-my-resbayou-billy-stage-3

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.

rocky-and-roccobayou-billy-failgodfather-gordon

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.

the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-comic-1

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.

the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-comic-2

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!

the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-comic-3

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.

the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-comic-4

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.

the-adventures-of-bayou-billy-comic-5

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.

bayou-billy-art-1

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!

the-final-plague-logo

The Axeman: The Killer Of New Orleans

A chill is in the air, and we are getting so close to October and Halloween time so I figured we would take a look at a graphic novel based on an unknown killer from the early 1900’s. This killer claimed he was not human and loved the sound of jazz music and would stalk his victims at night, but as quickly as the murders started, they also stopped. I am a true crime buff and always enjoy reading a good novel about an unknown killer, and next to Zodiac Killer and Phantom Killer of Texarkana, The Axeman of New Orleans – this strange case of an unidentified killer – has always peeked my interest.  I was curious about who he was and why he did what he did. So for this update we will be taking a look at the information Rick Geary collected to try and bring to life in his graphic novel based on this sadistic brutal killer. So lock your doors and shut your windows as Rotten Ink takes a look at The Axeman who tormented New Orleans.

The Ax of The Axeman

On May 22, 1918 in New Orleans, Italian grocer Joseph Maggio and his wife Catherine were asleep in their bed when The Axeman entered the home, slit their throats with a straight razor and then bashed them in the head with an axe. Catherine’s wound to her neck was so bad that her head was almost severed from her body, while Joseph lived for a short time after his brother found the victims and was able to get him help. On June 27th 1918, the killer struck again when he attacked and nearly killed Louis Besumer and his mistress Harriet Lowe.  Both were hit with a hatchet but were found in time by a delivery driver named John Zanca. Sadly, Lowe would later die from surgery linked to her attack, and Besumer would go on to be a suspect in his own attack as well as a German spy and was arrested and died in jail. On August 5th 1918, the killer struck again.  This time his victim was a 28 year old pregnant woman who he bashed in the face repeatedly cutting her scalp wide open, and if she hadn’t been found by her husband, she could have bled to death.  Five days later, the Axeman attacked and murdered Joseph Romano in his home with two ax blows to the head.  Romano was found by his two nieces, who were able to get him help, but sadly he died two days later from trauma. Charles Cortimiglia and his wife Rosie and baby daughter Mary were attacked on March 10th 1919.  All were hit with an ax, and Mary passed away while Charles and Rosie were treated and released. On March 13th 1919, a letter was sent by the Axe-Man claiming he would not kill anyone who played jazz all night and that he was in fact not human but a demon among many other claims. On August 10th, 1919, Steve Boca was attacked in his home with an ax and was lucky enough to survive. 19 year old Sarah Laumann was found in her home with ax wounds to her head and several of her teeth knocked out; she would survive the attack. The Axe-Man’s final target was Mike Pepitone, who was killed with ax blows to his head. Over the years of his attacks many people were suspects and some were even arrested but none were ever proven to be the real killer.  A letter was written by the killer claiming unworldly things, and he was even compared to fictional character Mr. Hyde. One thing is for sure, he was never caught and if he truly was a demon or a monster, he still might be out their waiting to strike again.

Axeman Trading CardAxemans Jazzaxeman shadow

So there is a quick run down of all the mayhem this killer caused in New Orleans, but his crimes and infamous style of murder also went on to be in many media projects besides this graphic novel. In 1919, a song called The Mysterious Axman’s Jazz (Don’t Scare Me Papa) was written by Joseph John Davilla. Gumbo Ya-Ya: A Collection Of Louisiana Folk Tales, a book with a chapter about the Axe-Man, was released in 1945. In 1984, The Beasts of Bourdon released their first album called The Axeman’s Jazz after the killer. 1991 saw a fiction novel based on the murders called The Axeman’s Jazz written by Julie Smith. In issue # 94 of Swamp Thing, DC Comics also did a take on the Axeman. 1992 saw the release of True Crime trading cards, and in the second series, The Axeman was a featured card. English band Fila Brazillia used parts of the Axeman’s letter as lyrics in their 1998 song Tunstall And Californian Haddock. In 2004, I wrote a movie script for Independent B Movie called The Return Of The Axeman that was to take place in modern times and have the killer back, killing college age people on a trip to a rural farmhouse.  Sadly, the script was not picked by the group to turn into a movie. Red, White And Blood is a 2012 novel by Christopher Farnsworth that has an evil spirit called the Boogeyman who body jumps into people throughout history and was written to be inside the Axeman during his murders. A year later in 2013, The Axeman, played by Danny Huston, was a character in the TV series American Horror Story: Coven. Ray Celestin wrote a fiction detective novel called The Axeman’s Jazz in 2014. And this is just a drop in the hat of the stuff this case has influenced.  It’s a shame that the real case never had an ending like all these media projects did as it would have been nice for the killer to have been brought to justice and his victims to have seen their tormentor captured.

Gumbo Ya-Ya, A Collection of Louisiana Folk Tales bookBeasts of Bourbon CDThe Axemans Jazz Book

So as you can see, The Axeman has chopped his way into history as well as in to the comic world as he not only has this graphic novel based on his crimes but also inspired an issue of Swamp Thing! I think it’s time for the main event, and I need to remind you all that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready, let’s try to solve this case and see what Rick Geary has in store for us this Halloween update season!

The Terrible AxeMan Of New Orleans GN

The Terrible Axe-Man Of New Orleans  ***1/2
Released in 2010     Cover Price $15.99     NBM Publishing   #1 of 1

The story begins with a history of Louisiana, how it became a state, how New Orleans came about and who it was named after as well as some of the ups and downs throughout the city’s history. It covers the culture that grew in the city from music like blues and jazz to Mardi Gras all the way to the Union holding it during the Civil War and terrors that stalked the nights like Needleman, a chap who injected poison into his victims and even Jack The Clipper, a freak who liked to cut schoolgirls hair in theaters and buses. But our main story starts in 1918 when Andrew awakens to hear thuds and strange noises coming from his brother’s room.  Upon checking on him, Andrew finds that his brother is dead as is his wife in what is described at the bloodiest crime scene in the city’s history! A razor was used and found on the bed as was an ax that was left in the bathtub.  Nothing was stolen from the house, and the killer got in by using a chisel on the back door’s lower panel and crawling in, and even more oddly, a strange message is left on the sidewalk in chalk that is linked to the crime. Andrew and his other brother Jake are arrested for the murders but are both later cleared of the charges.  As one old time police officer remembers, some cases from 1911 that had Italian grocers being killed in this fashion, and the Mafia and a group called The Black Hand became the suspects. More murders and attacks accrue, many with the killer using the victims’ own axes or hatchets to attack them with as well as entering via door panels or open back windows. Many people are accused of the crimes and all are proven not guilty, and the lucky ones who live through the attacks are unable to describe the killer. One case with survivors has the wife accusing another family who runs a store that competes with their own, and it seems as if anyone can be a suspect! Over time people start buying guns, and The Axeman fails at many attempts at breaking into houses.  Things seem to go back to normal until he attacks a family and murders an infant child! He then sends a letter to the Times-Picayune on March 14th 1919 stating he is a demon who chooses to kill whenever he wants and that he will strike on the following Tuesday and will murder anyone who is not playing jazz as he is very fond of that style of music.  All over town that night jazz music echoes, and the killer does not strike. The Axeman strikes once again in 1919 but also during this year he is run off by aware townspeople who react and scare away the killer before he can claim a life. And after killing a total of six people and wounding six others, the killings just stop, and The Axeman fades away into the shadows and memories of New Orleans. On December 2nd 1920, a man named Joseph Mumphre was shot and killed on a sidewalk in Los Angeles by Rose Pepitone, who was the wife of the Axeman’s final victim.  She claims that Joseph was the Axeman and that she wanted nothing but revenge on him for killing her husband; others don’t think this was the case at all. So ends the story of The Axeman who could have died a man or lives on as a demon roaming the world looking for his next time to strike terror.

This graphic novel is a well-done true crime spectacular that will wrap you up into trying to figure out who was the Axe-Man of New Orleans and also lets you look at the horrific crimes he committed in glorious black and white art. The comic covers a very brief history of Louisiana and New Orleans and then goes into the horrific acts committed by the Axeman and gives you dates and facts about each crime and even a little history about the poor victims. While it’s about a brutal killer, this graphic novel does not go overboard on the blood and gore, but that’s not to say that the red stuff don’t flow from wounds nor splatter walls cause it does, just very tastefully. The interesting part about this is that in 1911, years before the official Axeman attacks, horrific murders with the same M.O. were committed showing that this killer could have had even more victims than reported, and it also brings light to the fact someone in New Orleans really disliked Italian grocers. But the million dollar question that this graphic novel really gets you thinking about is who was The Axeman as the suspects are plenty and almost all of them at some time were ruled out even if they had motive to commit the murders.  Plus the thought of several murderers all doing the crimes to look like one also comes to my mind when reading it. But I really do think the main suspect, and probably the man who was the Axeman of New Orleans, was Joseph Mumphre.  When he was in jail, the killings stopped for a brief time, and then once he moved away to L.A. the killing were done.  This is clearly the main suspect and the right one for the police to have kept an eye on even though they didn’t, and it took the widow of one of the victims to give him justice at the end of a bullet. Rick Geary’s artwork is fantastic and captures the mood and feel of this grim subject and brings a touch of class to such a horrible crime in American history. If you’re a comic book fan and love true crime, this is a great read on a late fall night, really worth checking out.  After reading this one, I ordered more of his work, and I am sure you will see them pop up here on Rotten Ink as future updates. Below is some art from this graphic novel of the Axeman, so sit back and give it a look, and you also might want to look over your shoulder because who knows, he might still be out there!

The Terrible AxeMan Of New Orleans Art 1

We finished this a little early, and I know you want to be scared a little more from this Pre-Halloween update so we will take a look at Swamp Thing # 94! I have been a fan of Swamp Thing for many years, and when I was a kid I had The Saga Of Swamp Thing # 1 comic and thought I had a true collectors item…now being 36 and a comic store connoisseur, I see that that issue is not worth the thousands of dollars I thought it would be when I was that comic collecting youth. Also, thanks Lone Star Comics for having this in stock so that I could cover this issue for this update!

Swamp Thing 94

Swamp Thing # 94   **
Released in 1990     Cover Price $1.50     DC Comics    # 94 of 171

The Axeman is back and has killed in the small town of Houma during Mardi Gras leaving the bodies in the swamp where they are found by Swamp Thing. In town is a jazz band named Cocodrie whose lead singer has gotten an ax from a fan that holds magical powers of music for every blood drop on it.  This ax really came from a descendent of the original Axeman of New Orleans who wants the legacy of the killings and the spreading of jazz music to continue. Abby Holland, the wife of Swamp Thing, wants him to come to the big concert tonight as she thinks no one will notice him as everyone will be in costume and too drunk to care.  All the while murders are happing, and the new Axeman is collecting blood and setting jazz music free from the hearts of his victims.  You see, while the singer plays the jazz, the killer does his thing and murders poor people in their homes. The killer is being pushed by a giant purple demon who is getting joy of the madness and terror these killings are causing. While at the concert Abby has to leave as her baby daughter starts to cry because the infant can see the demon.  This makes them the target of the Axeman, and just as he is about to chop them up, Swamp Thing appears and beats not only the killer but also the demon.  This marks the end of the terror of the Axeman as even the band’s singer is effected by the defeat.

This issue while good is a disappointment and clearly a filler issue in this series as both Swamp Thing and The Axeman of New Orleans are after thoughts to the demon who is the cause of the murders as well as the lead singer of Cocodrie and his love for his musical ax and wanting to be the top jazz musician in the world. The plot is this a demon who us the man behind making a man become an ax murder is back and is using a new batch of goons to commit the crimes is stopped once Swamp Thing gets wind of what’s going down and saves his wife who was the next target to be chopped up. Swamp Thing in this issue is disgusted by the murders and wants to seek answers to what kind of demon could be pushing a person to do these acts, he also takes no mercy on how quick he takes down The Axeman! Abby Holland is a free spirited woman who loves her family and also loves running around the swamp naked and trying to get Swamp Thing to do normal activities. The Axeman has two different types of axes one for killing and one for making music and when he kills he wants to be a brutal as possible and targets many woman this time around, really like how the killer is related to the original axeman and that a demon is really calling the shots just as the letter stated back in 1919. The Cocodrie are used a filler to help spread Jazz music and the lead singer is the pawn in a sick game of promised fame and fortune, I mean who ever has heard of a magical musical wood chopping ax? The issue has some horror elements as people are chopped up and a Demon jumps for joy when people are killed, the downside is the story is weak and has a lame pay off with Swamp Thing stopping the Axeman with ease and at no point is he or Abby really in any danger! The major plus side to the issue is that they use the song The Mysterious Axman’s Jazz (Don’t Scare Me Papa) as the motivation of the killer and his musical butthead lacky. The artwork is done by Kelley Jones and the story is done by Doug Wheeler and while a little lacking they both are fitting for this Swamp Thing filler issue. Over all I am a Swamp Thing fan I just was let down by this issue and I think it might have been my own fault as I might have over hyped it in my head.

Swamp Thing 94 Art 1Swamp Thing 94 Art 2Swamp Thing 94 Art 3

So this Halloween season while zombies, vampires and werewolves might scare you late nights in movies, comics, video games and novels know that the real horrors of the world are people like The Axeman of New Orleans who stalk the innocent to satisfy their sick bloodlust! Our next update I am very happy to say that the first update for October is going to be Panic Beats another very cool comic based on a Paul Naschy film! So until then watch a horror film or two, read a horror comic or three and support your local Horror Host as this time of the year is made for having a good scare or two.

Panic Beats Logo

Horror Host Icon: Morgus The Magnificent

On January 3, 1959, the House of Shock opened for business with Morgus the Magnificent hitting the airwaves on News Orleans’ WWL-TV.  For the next half-century Morgus would delight monster kids (and their kids and grandkids) in his home city of New Orleans as well as New York and Detroit via syndication.  Greetings, friends of science and members of the higher order!  It’s Juliet, proud to report for blogging duty to talk about this very special horror host that was part of my family’s late night movie experience as Rotten Ink brings you Horror Host Icon: Morgus the Magnificent.  horror_morgus

Momus Alexander Morgus was descended from a long line of scientists dating all the way back to Morgus the First who it is said was the architect of the Great Pyramid.  Morgus, the 96th of his name, attended the Vasco Da Gama Medical School (the Caribbean’s finest – where he later served as the chair of quantum mechanics and far-out physics) and currently serves as the head of the Momus Alexander Morgus Institute (MAMI) and is a member of the “higher order.”  He’s the author of several volumes of scientific research including New Hope for the Dead and Molecules I Have Known as well as the inventor of many technological breakthroughs. The early years of horror hosting, alas, aren’t as well documented as they could be, but from what I can tell, it looks like Morgus was the first host who wasn’t a ghoul or vampire and was also the first host to structure his show in an episodic fashion rather than a more sketch or stand-up style.  Each episode of the House of Shock had Morgus unleashing a new experiment, and if you took the movie out, the segments would be almost like an episode of a modern day sitcom.  This is the same structure Matt and Baron Von Porkchop use for Terrifying Tales of the Macabre. The man behind Morgus was Sid Noel, a WWL radio personality and actor who both created and played the character.  Morgus’ main assistant in his experiments was Chopsley, a tall masked executioner who never spoke. Like Dr. Creep’s sidekick Duffy the Dog, Chopsley was portrayed by a variety of actors over the years, but the original Chopsley was Tommy George, a 6-foot-7 Bernard Parish motorcycle cop, who’s now deceased.  Another mainstay of the Old Ice House (and my mother’s favorite character) was Eric, a talking human skull who alerted Morgus to presence of visitors and was known to agree with his master.

-5f8749f3ef2f4f17Morgus

In 1962, Morgus starred in the first feature film centered around a horror host as his hosting character (Vampira was in Plan 9 From Outer Space in 1959, but that film wasn’t centered around her horror host persona) in The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus.  It’s a fabulous B movie that has Morgus creating an Instant People Machine to help with easy travel.  People go into the device and are turned into sand for easy shipping around the world where they are then reconstituted into people using another of Morgus’ devices.  In true Cold War-era fashion, spies from the vaguely Soviet nation of Microvania want to use the device for nefarious purposes all the while a super stereotypically reporter, “Pencils,” is hot on the trail of breaking the whole story wide open.  The film recently, finally, got a proper DVD release after floating around the gray market for decades, and I’m proud to report that I’m writing this blog in the shadow of a cinema-sized poster for The Wacky World of Dr. Morgus (the yellow image below) that hangs in a place of honor in the apartment.

 Picture3MV5BMTI2OTU3MzIzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODc0NTYxMQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_wacky_worldl

In 1964, Sid Noel took Morgus to Detroit to produce a series of episodes for Storer Broadcasting as well as do an afternoon weather sketch.  The Detroit show was called Morgus Presents and only lasted in the Motor City until 1965 when Noel and Morgus returned to New Orleans to pursue a syndication deal, paving the way for Lawson J. Deming and Sir Graves Ghastly to take up Detroit’s horror hosting mantle.  Upon returning to New Orleans, Morgus followed the same formula he had in Detroit, a daily weather report using his Morgusso-Electromagnetic-Weather-Prognosticator and episodes of Morgus Presents (this time in color).  But that was also short-lived, and it would be 1986 until Morgus resumed production with another iteration of Morgus Presents.  The premise, set and characters were basically the same save for a few timely updates including Eric’s upgrade to E.R.I.C. (the Eon Research Infinity Computer), whose memory banks held all the world’s knowledge – basically classic Eric was attached to an Apple II.  There were 52 episodes of Morgus Presents produced between 1986 and 1989, and as you’ll see below, this is the series you’ll more than likely be watching if you track down old Morgus episodes.

2b8ca5ea2669703b8dde3cc5eee37e00hqdefault-1eric

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Mogus’ whereabouts were unknown for a brief period after the storm, leaving fans extremely worried.  Luckily, Morgus sent word that he was indeed okay and looking forward to returning to New Orleans TV sometime in the future.  In 2011, Morgus the Magnificent was inducted into the Horror Host Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class that also included Vampira, Zachlery, Dr. Creep and many others.  That same year, the Mystery of Morgus, a documentary on the host’s legacy, aired on WVUE-TV in New Orleans.  Reruns of Morgus continue to air in New Orleans under the name Morgus Presents: The House Of Shock, but Sid Noel has been keeping busy too.  In the 90s, he created “Uncle Noel’s Fun Fables,” a character building reading program for public school kids.  In 2013, Noel partnered with the New Orleans Public Library system to create The Internet Story Club of America, an online vault of stories for children as well as resources for parents and teachers.

10153080_326796200808071_986699759062779771_nHOS

Morgus’ popularity transcended far beyond the TV set and the silver screen.  One of his most notable contributions to a none-film medium is the pop song “Morgus the Magnificent” by Morgus and the Ghouls.  The aforementioned Ghouls were actually New Orleans music royalty Dr. John and Frankie Ford.  Dr. John also has a separate song called “Morgus The Magnificent” on his Mos’ Scocious Anthology.   Modern New Orleans funk band Galactic also pays homage to Morgus in “Friends of Science” on their Ya-Ka-May album.  In grand New Orleans tradition, Morgus has been featured on Mardi Gras doubloons and has been honored by many of the carnival krewes including Endymion and Athenians.  Not to be left out of the Morgus action, a Detroit newspaper had a short-lived comic strip based on the good doctor.  It’s also worth noting that George Noory of Coast to Coast AM cites Morgus as a major influence and has had him as a guest on the show several times.

r-b-rocker-morgus-the-ghouls-morgus-the-magnificent-vin-1013-halloween_20920436a00d83451d04569e2015434239e1f970c-800wihqdefault

So how does someone born and raised in Ohio become slightly obsessed with Morgus the Magnificent?  Is it the Michigan connection?  Nope.  As I mentioned when I wrote about Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, my mom is originally from New Orleans so in addition to spending some time there as a child to visit my grandparents and other family and friends who lived in the Big Easy, from a fairly early age I became really enamored with the city because of the stories she’d tell me about her childhood there.  Morgus was a part of that childhood.  My mom and my uncle both remember Morgus as being appointment viewing when they were younger, and had the ritual of sharing a bottle of Coke while watching the show – though according to my mom, you couldn’t drink it until the show began.  My mom even told me that when she moved to Ohio as an adult, she was really excited to discover Dr. Creep and Shock Theatre because she had such fond memories of Morgus, and though Shock Theatre was more sketch-based than episodic, I can see some similarities between the hosts.  But actually, Eric (who’s “just a skull”) is her all-time favorite – and now my adopted favorite as I’ve been delving into the Morgus Presents episodes, though I’m also super fond of Mogus himself (for the record, Matt is a Chopsley man).  Watching the Morgus Presents episodes have also made me truly appreciate what drew my mom to Morgus; the humor is right up her (and my) alley with a perfect mix of smarts and slapstick that’s a tad absurdist and just a little dark.

vlcsnap-122117991

And now, friends of science, it’s time to delve into some episodes featuring Morgus the Magnificent.  As I mentioned above, these are all episodes of the 80s Morgus Presents series as it’s nearly impossible to find any of Morgus’ older material, which is a shame because I’d love to see some of the episodes my mom watched as a kid.  Nonetheless (and lucky for us), the 80s episodes are pretty hilarious and well worth a watch.  As usual, I’ll be describing the host segments while the movie’s description comes to us via IMDB.

morgus brides of dracula dvd

Morgus Presents: Brides of Dracula
Starring – Peter Cushing & Martita Hunt     Not Rated     1960

Host: Morgus is getting ready to unveil his latest scientific achievement, a one-hour solution for baldness. He’s going to transplant the scalp of a donor onto the bald person while still allowing the donor to regrow his hair in less than an hour. Just as he’s about to show off the treatment, there’s a knock at the door, and in his first appearance, Wiley Faye, shows up and introduces himself. Faye has been watching Morgus on television and wants to be his manager. When Wiley hears about Morgus’ baldness solution, he calls up bald billionaire Cornelius Goodrich and arranges for him to come over. Before Cornelius arrives, the hair donor shows up. After a few minutes of negotiation, Larry is prepped for the transplant. Wiley and Cornelius arrive soon after, and Cornelius volunteers to receive the transplanted hair. After the surgery, Morgus has to pay Larry, but Cornelius isn’t awake yet. Wile tells Morgus to write the check and that Cornelius will cover it. But Cornelius only makes donations to people who are married. So Morgus has Chopsley bring out Zelda, a rather zombie-esque young woman who was in the room where he keeps former patients. Cornelius asks Morgus what he’d do with an unlimited amount of money, and Morgus tells him about his dream of Morgusity, a science city. Cornelius writes the check, but it’s his policy to always give the check to the wife of the family – so he enters the room marked Keep Out where Zelda and the other patients reside….

Movie: A young teacher on her way to a position in Transylvania helps a young man escape the shackles his mother has put on him. In so doing she innocently unleashes the horrors of the undead once again on the populace, including those at her school for ladies. Luckily for some, Dr Van Helsing is already on his way

morgus CREATURE walks among us dvdMorgus Presents: The Creature Walks Among Us
Starring – Jeff Morrow & Rex Reason     Unrated     1956

Host: Morgus is finally going to open up the secret room (the one marked “Keep Out” at the far end of the lab). He explains that vampire are real, though not like we see in Hollywood, and that there’s a blood shortage to feed them. Morgus has been breeding all-weather mosquitos that he sends out to sample blood from people living in the city. He then recalls the mosquitos and puts them into a device to extract the blood to feed Victoria and other vampires like her. So Morgus implores the viewers to open their windows and contribute their blood to science. He explains the conditions of vampirism and says that if you have the symptoms, you should visit the lab for blood treatment. For those who aren’t experiencing the conditions of vampirism, Morgus and E.R.I.C. have set up a special hotline (555-Morgus) to volunteer to be mailed leeches to contribute blood for the afflicted. The calls begins coming in and Chopsley works hard to pack leeches as Morgus presses more mosquitos. We meet Norman, another vampire in Morgus’ care. More sufferers of vampirism show up at the lab, but the mosquitos aren’t coming in as fast as they need to and soon Morgus has a bigger problem, the blood machine is leaking. In an effort to get more donations quickly, Morgus offers some entertainment – just like on all the other telethons. He, Chopsley and E.R.I.C. sing Home on the Range. A man from pest control arrives, saying he’s killed all of the mosquitos at the request of Alma Fetish, Morgus’ landlady. As Morgus tries to explain to the man what he’s done, the vampires attack.

Movie: In this third Gill-Man feature, the Creature is captured and turned into an air-breather by a rich mad scientist. This makes the Creature very unhappy, and he escapes, killing people and setting fires in the process.

morgus dracula dvd

Morgus Presents: Dracula
Starring – Bela Lugosi & Helen Chandler    Unrated   1931

Host: Morgus tells the viewers that this may be the last time they see him. He’s asked the governor to send over the state’s best minds to join him in a journey to the future. Using his Morgo-Megafreezer, Morgus explains that he’ll cryogenically freeze himself and his volunteers to then be unfreezed in the future. Naturally, Morgus will go to the future so he needs someone to take his place in the present and sets about unfreezing his grandfather who’s encased in a block of ice. While Grandpa Morgus recovers from the unfreezing, distinguished scientists show up at the lab to be frozen. Alma Fetish interrupts to complain about the noise, but soon Bill Anderson, an accountant shows up, with a get-rich-quick scheme for when they’re unfrozen. Unfortunately Grandpa Morgus doesn’t recover well so Morgus arranges for Wiley Faye to take care of his business in the current era while he’s frozen. Wiley will also help run the museum that Morgus proposes will open in the lab while everyone is frozen.

Movie: After a harrowing ride through the Carpathian mountains in eastern Europe, Renfield enters castle Dracula to finalize the transferral of Carfax Abbey in London to Count Dracula, who is in actuality a vampire. Renfield is drugged by the eerily hypnotic count, and turned into one of his thralls, protecting him during his sea voyage to London. After sucking the blood and turning the young Lucy Weston into a vampire, Dracula turns his attention to her friend Mina Seward, daughter of Dr. Seward who then calls in a specialist, Dr. Van Helsing, to diagnose the sudden deterioration of Mina’s health. Van Helsing, realizing that Dracula is indeed a vampire, tries to prepare Mina’s fiance, John Harker, and Dr. Seward for what is to come and the measures that will have to be taken to prevent Mina from becoming one of the undead.

Morgus Eyes Of Charles Sand dvd

Morgus Presents: The Eyes of Charles Sand
Starring – Peter Haskell & Joan Bennett     Not Rated     1972

Host: We pick up from a prior cliffhanger (from the Godzilla Raids Again episode) with the real Morgus outside the lab listening in to his evil clone angrily proclaim that he’s placed his Morgusaroid clones throughout the city strapped with explosives, but the real Morgus has a plan. He’s going to sneak into the lab through the secret bookcase passageway and will pretend to be one of the clones. Evil Morgus decides to create more Morgusaroids to try to grow his evil empire to the state capital. The new clone is a bit scrawny so Evil Morgus decides to arm a new clone and picks the real Morgus who succeeded in sneaking into the lab. Chopsley boxes him up for shipment to the governor with a bomb attached. A workman comes to take the box away and hearing Morgus’ screams, frees him. Morgus defuses the bomb and heads out the window to sneak back into the lab. Evil Morgus rails against the TV station for cutting off his evil speeches and gets ready to send a clone strapped with dynamite to the station. The governor calls and concedes the state to Evil Morgus, who now decides to go after the whole country. Evil Morgus hops on to the cloning machine to create more clones of himself, but the real Morgus reverses the polarity of the machine and zaps Evil Morgus into oblivion. Morgus recalls the clones to the lab for their subsequent donation to the army along with a donation of Chopsley clones to the sanitation department. The first Chopsley clone makes himself right at home and locks himself in the original Chopsley’s hide-y hole behind Morgus’ chalkboard. Morgus has a deal to sell the cloning machine to the government, and a representative from the pro-football scouting organization shows up to strike a deal for one of the Chopsleys. When he asks a Chopsley to sign the contract, they all being fighting over it and smash Morgus’ cloning machine.

Movie: A young man inherits the ability to see visions beyond the grave. He helps a girl investigate her brother’s alleged murder.

Morgus Frankenstein Conquers The World DVD

Morgus Presents: Frankenstein Conquers The World
Starring – Tadao Takashima & Nick Adams     Not Rated     1965

Host: Morgus is ready to make history as aliens make first contact with the inhabitants of the Old Ice House. The aliens communicate through music, which Morgus employs E.R.I.C. to translate, but the TV station interrupts this momentous occasion by starting the night’s movie. When we return, Eric has translated the message; it’s pi. The aliens continue to communicate, addressing Morgus by name and telling him that to prepare for a cultural exchange. Morgus realizes that they mean a cultural representative of the Earth, and of course nominates himself. As Morgus prepares for space, he explains that the aliens must be highly advanced and will bring peace to the Earth, which he’ll help negotiate. Part of the preparations include rigging up a system for Morgus to eat liquified bologna sandwiches in space via a rubber glove and having Chopsley stuff Morgus into a dryer to see how he can withstand the g-force of launching into space. Morgus calls Wiley Faye, and tells him to get the media over to the Old Ice House as soon as possible. E.R.I.C. informs them that the aliens are getting closer as Morgus begins to pack for his journey and the first reporter arrives to interview Morgus. The alien arrives with a bang, and flashes the sign of the higher order before freezing Morgus to scan him. Morgus is unsure how to communicate with the alien, but Chopsley makes some headway with a game of tic-tac-toe. While Morgus is getting ready to go, the alien says that it doesn’t want Morgus, it actually wants E.R.I.C. and in his place, they send alien-version of the skull hooked to a computer in his place.

Movie: During WWII, a human heart taken from a certain lab in Europe (Dr. Frankenstein’s) is kept in a Japanese lab, when it gets exposed to the radiation of the bombing of Hiroshima. The heart grows in size, mutates and sprouts appendages, and eventually grows into a complete body and escapes. Later, a feral boy with a certain physical deformity (a large head with a flat top) is captured by scientists who refer to the boy as Frankenstein. The creature grows to the height of 20 feet, escapes again, fights police and army, and is practically indestructible. Later, a reptilian monster goes on a rampage. Eventually the Frankenstein creature and the reptile face off in a terrible battle.

morgus godzilla dvd

Morgus Presents: Godzilla
Starring – Takashi Shimura & Akihiko Hirata    Unrated   1954

Host: Morgus is trying to get a hold of the president because our country’s biggest weapon is at risk. Morgus goes on to explain that the battle of the future is the battle of the brains. Therefore Morgus has created a device to help preserve the best brains of the nation, giving up their bodies to hook into a device that resembles a giant E.R.I.C. Morgus calls forth the great brains of the nation, especially those of the higher order, to come to the lab and volunteer for this service while Morgus continues to try to call the president. Chopsley offers up his own brain, but Morgus says that in fact Chopsley’s brain is too valuable to preserve in this fashion (because it’s never been used). Someone calls in and suggests that Morgus preserve his own brain. E.R.I.C. chimes in with his agreement so Morgus talks Chopsley through performing the surgery and transporting Morgus’s head onto the device. From his position on the device (and looking rather like E.R.I.C.), Morgus expresses his dismay that no one has volunteered to preserve their brain at the Mt. Morgus Brain Preserve. Chopsley’s solution is to make bumper stickers that proclaim “I Heart My Brain.” An FBI agent arrives because Morgus has been calling the White House talking about the end of the world. The agent says he’ll take Morgus to see the president, but gets grossed out and runs into the room marked “Keep Out” when he sees Morgus’ headless body sitting at the lab table. Morgus goes on to explain that once the brain is separated from the body, it becomes more powerful and demonstrates this by sweeping the lab with his mind and then fools Chopsley into playing chess with his headless body. Morgus finally decides to replace his head on his body, but when he ordered Chopsley to do so, E.R.I.C. interrupts and reminds Chopsley of their deal – a body for E.R.I.C. and he’ll fix Chopsley’s face. With his skull on Morgus’ body, E.R.I.C. when accepts a phonecall from the president inviting Eric the Excellent for a visit to the White House.

Movie: A 164-foot-tall (50-meter-tall) monster reptile with radioactive breath is revived, thanks to nuclear testing. It goes on a mad rampage, destroying Tokyo – can it be stopped? Should it be killed?

Morgus Godzilla Raids Again dvd

Morgus Presents: Godzilla Raids Again
Starring – Hiroshi Koizumi & Setsuko Wakayama    Unrated    1955

Host: E.R.I.C. introduces the show because Morgus is still under arrest from the previous episode. Soon Morgus and Chopsley arrive in handcuffs, and Morgus explains a bright idea from Wiley Faye and his cloning machine, which was used to create the Morgusaroid clones, had caught the attention of the law. But now Morgus sets about the business of creating more Morgusaroids to sell to the public. There are different models ranging from the very basic un-housebroken Morgusaroid to a fully customizable model. While Chopsley feeds them (they only require dog food and water), Morgus shows a video by order of the judge that released him, of the Morgusaroids doing community service throughout New Orleans. The newly trained Morgusaroids are prepared for shipping, and a rock and roll musician shows up seeking Morgusroids to fill out his band. The Morgusroids rock out, and Morgus makes a sale. But Morgus cautions that they need to be careful with the duplicator machine’s intelligence control. Before he can explain further, a woman arrives to buy a Morgusaroid to serve as her permanent escort. The orders for Morgusroids keep coming in so Morgus hops back onto the duplicator. Chopsley gets distracted by the phone ringing and a Morgusaroid flips the wrong switch (the intelligence switch) and creates an evil version of Morgus. A man from the department of labor shows up to arrest Morgus for employing clones that are only 10 minutes old, and when he tries to warn him about the Evil Morgus, the man takes the Real Morgus away. Evil Morgus closes the show by vowing to take over the city.

Movie: Koji Kobayashi, a spotter for a Japanese fishing fleet crash lands his plane on a barren island. His best friend, Shoichi Tsukioka, manages to find him and lands his plane next to his so he can be rescued. The two pilots are shocked when they see two giant monsters waging war before falling into the ocean. The two pilots race back to Japan to inform the government what they saw. Soon the world comes to the realization, that a monster closely related to the original Godzilla is on the loose as well as a new monster named Angilas. Soon, the two monsters arrive in Osaka where they resume their battle. Will the two monsters destroy Osaka before they ultimately destroy each other?

morgus godzilla vs mothra dvd

Morgus Presents: Godzilla vs. Mothra
Starring – Akira Takarada & Hiroshi Koizumi    Not Rated   1964

Host: Morgus promises that the evening’s experiment will answer all of our unanswered questions about physics. He reveals an invisible table, created with a special formula of liquid molecules that when treated properly will vibrate and make an object invisible. Morgus quickly proceeds from solid molecules in solid objects to animals, showing off his invisible hamster named Albert, which he then makes almost reappear with yet another formula. A visitor appears at the lab, Claude, an invisible scientist who turned himself as such during a botched experiment. Claude wants Morgus to perfect his visibility formula and cure him. But the formula must be injected directly into the adrenal gland so Morgus performs invisible surgery on Claude who begins blinking in and out of view. The operation doesn’t appear to work so Morgus wraps up Claude like the Invisible Man. The next thing they try is to give Claude the formula orally after-which he freaks out and starts throwing things at Morgus. He and Chopsley finally get Claude calmed down (and sedated) and use clown makeup to fool him into thinking he’s invisible. While Claude jogs to supposedly make the medicine work, Morgus waits for the doctors from the sanitarium that he’s had his fans call for Claude. The doctors arrive, but Claude’s unwrapped himself and disappeared, and the doctors think Morgus is the crazy one.

Movie: A greedy developer has placed huge machines to suck dry a part of the ocean near Tokyo so he can put luxury condos there. After a storm, a giant egg washes up on the beach nearby and is immediately put on public display. The developer’s plans go awry when he disrupts Godzilla’s rest and the monster goes stomping through Tokyo again. It’s up to the elderly Mothra, and then to its two offspring, to save Tokyo from destruction.

morgus godzilla vs the sea monster dvd

Morgus Presents: Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster
Starring – Akira Takarada & Kumi Mizuno     Not Rated    1966

Host: Morgus sends Chopsley to the store for sandwiches saying that there’s precious little time to eat while they finish their latest scientist breakthrough. As he greets the viewers, Morgus alerts journalists in the audience that they’ll want to pay special attention because this invention will give them an edge on the competition. The Morgusoscopic Prognosticator allows you to see into the future and find out what’s going to happen before it happens – so, among other things, news reporter could know the news before it happens. The Prognosticator works by employing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which Morgus take it upon himself to teach the viewers about, and spits out the future readings via the computer E.R.I.C. is wired to. Morgus uses the machine to predict a nearby fire, which moments later in started by Chopsley, who is barbecuing in the hallway. Once the firemen leave, the chief stays behind to ask Morgus how he knew to call for help ahead of time. Morgus demonstrates the machine successfully, but as the chief leaves, his landlord Alma Fetish pays him a visit. She’s fed up with Morgus’ experiments, but he cons her into helping him by rigging her up with a camera so he can break the news as it happens using the machine’s predictions. Morgus launches the Futuristic News with himself as chief correspondent, Alma as roving reporter and Chopsley as the weatherman. As a car pulls up, Morgus is excited because he thinks the station manager is coming to write him a check for the Prognosticator and the Futuristic News service. Morgus uses the machine to see what kind of contract the manager will offer, but it tells him that a well known TV scientist will die live on the air in 1 minute. Morgus tells the viewers not to worry as he keels over. Morgus’ ghost watches in a panic as the station manager arrive with the contract.

Movie: Some teenagers want to obtain a boat to find a brother. When they look around a boat without permission, they find a thief who takes them on his escape. They are caught in a storm and arrive at Letchi Island where natives of Infant Island have been enslaved by the terrorist organisation Red Bamboo. Red Bamboo runs a heavy water factory to process a juice which holds off the monster, Ebirah, which otherwise traps them on the island. The young men meet beautiful but tough Daiyo and wake up Godzilla to put an end to the Red Bamboo.

morgus house of frankenstein dvd

Morgus Presents: House of Frankenstein
Starring – Boris Karloff & Lon Chaney Jr.     Not Rated     1944

Host: Morgus is ready to shake up the medical world with his revolutionary DIY Clinics, where the average person can learn to diagnose and treat their own ailments using books and video cassettes made by Morgus himself. Patients begin to arrive at Morgus’ clinic including a woman about to have a baby, a man with a bloody injury and a woman who needs Morgus’ help to lose weight. Two babies are delivered, and a man named Perry Hoolihan arrives, suffering from halitosis. Morgus preps Perry for surgery (yes, for bad breath), and after a few explosions, he’s sent to recovery with aspirin (Morgus’ cure for everything). The clinic quickly fills up with patients in recovery (taking aspirin distributed by Chopsley) and Morgus reminds a man removing his own appendix to wear gloves. As more patients come to the Clinic, Morgus tries to get them up with television (via a telescope looking into the window of an adjacent building) and hospital food. Meanwhile, babies continue to be delivered and Morgus invites the doctors of the world to become franchisees of his DIY Clinic. Mr. Carter, the man who removed his own appendix, is recovering and Morgus urges him to take aspirin. But another patient is having a bad reaction and Morgus realizes that Chopsley’s been giving boric acid (roach powder) to all of the patients instead of aspirin, making them all drop…like roaches.

Movie: After escaping from an asylum the mad Dr. Niemann and his hunch back assistant revive Count Dracula, the Wolf Man and the Frankenstein monster in order to extract revenge upon their many enemies.

morgus invasion of the body snatchers dvd

Morgus Presents: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Starring – Kevin McCarthy & Dana Wynter   Not Rated    1956

Host: Morgus proclaims that the world is running out of food. The world’s population is growing and so are human beings – like Chosley, who Morgus declares is far too tall. Morgus has two experiments for the evening that will allow food to grow larger and people to grow smaller. After some persuasion, Chopsley agrees to be part of the experiment and enters a compression chamber to become half his size. Morgus and the smaller Chopsley move on to the next experiment of trying to make food larger, but as they get started, Chopsley proves rather useless because he’s no longer strong and is too short to reach anything on the lab’s top shelves. As Morgus grows a watermelon to 3 times its size, a man from the phone company arrives to collect on the payphone in the lab. The man mentions that he hates his job and always wanted to be a jockey but he’s too tall. Of course Morgus and his invention can help. He shrinks the man, who leaves the collection money with Morgus. As Morgus grows more vegetables, Chopsley pouts about being small, and the small telephone man and his wife return. The wife is furious and wants Morgus to make her husband big again, but instead Morgus talks her into getting into the compression machine too with the promise of being thinner. Mr. Wallace from the Defense Department arrives, and Morgus strikes up a deal with him to get this new technology to the Secretary of Defense. Meanwhile, Chopsley attempts to inject himself with the serum for the watermelon so he can grow large again. Morgus tries to stop him but ends up injecting himself and growing into a giant.

Movie: Dr Miles Bennell returns his small town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. He is initially skeptical, especially when the alleged dopplegängers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim’s lives, but he is eventually persuaded that something odd has happened and determines to find out what is causing this phenomenon.

morgus son of godzilla dvd

Morgus Presents: Son of Godzilla
Starring – Tadao Talashima & Akira Kudo    Not Rated    1967

Host: Morgus is very excited to welcome the stock brokers in the audience as his latest invention will make millions for the lucky investor. He’s created a perpetual motion machine using bionics so that the human heart is the source of the perpetual energy or MAMI Energy. Of course, the machine won’t be powered by the heart of a living human; a corpse is delivered, and Chopsley sets about connecting it to the machine. Morgus explains that the body requires no fuel other than plain water, and then calls out the press for printing an article calling him “The Weakest Link” (placed next to the funnies). Using a car battery, Morgus and Chopsley jumpstart the body and the machine. Shortly after it starts, they’ve created enough energy to power a fan. A workman arrives to read the gas meter and sneaks some photos of the machine in operation, and soon afterward, JP Randolph arrives from OEC to present Morgus with an award, The Oil Energy Cartel Peace Prize. Randolph says that OEC has authorized Morgus to make a donation of his machine to them, and they’ll of course give him $100,000. But they’re not planning on giving the donation to the people, rather they want to keep it away from the public. Luckily, Morgus calls a “code 3” and Chopsley hauls Randolph away. As Chosley returns, Morgus notices that the corpse is beginning to smell, but they’re interrupted by the arrival of the bug man who’s there to spray (and looks suspiciously like the gas meter reader and takes pictures of the machine just like him). Later, Morgus is making arrangements with the press, and a building inspector (with the same accent and look as the others) visits and snoops around, After he leaves, Morgus fields some audience questions via the phone in the lab about the device, and unfortunately we don’t know how things turn out because our copy of this episode ends with the movie.

Movie: A group of scientists are on tropical Solgel Island in the Pacific to conduct weather control experiments. Just before they begin, they find giant preying mantises measuring 25 feet tall called Kamakaras. They decide to go ahead with the experiments, but a malfunction in one of the devices and as a result a radioactive storm that pushes the temperature up to two hundred degrees. The storm also causes the mantises to grow even bigger to 100 feet tall. The mantises then make their way to a huge mound where they uncover a giant egg which contains a young Godzilla, later named Minilla. Eventually, Godzilla shows up and saves his offspring. The rest of the movie features Godzilla taking care of and teaching his young son the skills that will eventually help him to become the new “King of Monsters” as well as fighting the Kamakaras and a giant spider named Kumoga.

Morgus Terror Of Mechagodzilla DVD

Morgus Presents: Terror Of Mechagodzilla
Starring – Tomoko Ai & Goro Mutsumi     Not Rated    1975

Host: Morgus is catching up on fanmail, which includes many propositions from his female viewers. But alas, Mogus has an announcement. As the last of the Momus A. Morguses (Morgusi?), he must marry and produce an heir. With the help of his manager, Wiley Faye, the perfect candidate to be the bride of Morgus will arrive at the lab later in the show. But all is not well, as Chopsley packs his bag to leave. During the movie, Morgus convinces Chopsley to stay, and the executioner is helping his boss spruce up his hair as Wiley arrives with not one, but three perfect candidates. Morgus conducts a blind interview and chooses his bride, but he’s not to wed her; he needs her genes. DOA, the woman Morgus is to marry is in pieces on his lab table. He eventually assembles and revives her, and he sets to work teaching her to speak so that she can say their wedding vows. Later that evening, Morgus follows the advice of his father’s book, The Morgus Mating Manual, and tries to court DOA, but Chopsley’s stolen most of the diagrams from the book. Wiley returns with the rest of the wedding supplies and guests. As the Justice of the Peace begins the ceremony, he asks if there are any objections and the bride speaks up saying that she wants Chopsley instead, and Morgus is left chasing after the happy couple.

Movie: Aliens from a dying galaxy plan to destroy our cities and build their new home on Earth. Their weapon is Mechagodzilla, a 400-foot-tall robot armed with powerful lasers and guided missiles. Only Godzilla is mighty enough to stop the colossal machine, but when Professor Mafune joins the aliens, not even Godzilla will be able to defeat them. Mafune controls Titanosaurus, a gigantic amphibious dinosaur, through a biochemical connection with his cyborg daughter, Katsura. Godzilla is no match for Titanosaurus and Mechagodzilla together, but Interpol agents have discovered Titanosaurus’ weakness, which may give Godzilla the fighting chance he needs to save the world!

morgus wolfman dvd

Morgus Presents: The Wolfman
Starring – Claude Rains & Lon Chaney Jr.      Not Rated     1941

Host: Morgus has a brand new invention with which to rock the scientific community. He’s solved the problem of transportation with a machine that will modify the matter of people and turn them into a sand-like substance for easy shipping and transportation. Chopsley returns from Alma Fetish’s apartment with a frozen turkey for demonstration purposes and brings along Michael the dog. Morgus puts the turkey into the machine and delivers the particles to the Morguso-Restorator machine to demonstrate how matter is then rehydrated and put back together. Morgus then decides to demonstrate the machine on a live source, Michael. Some of the resulting sand lands on the floor, and when Morgus puts it into the Restorator machine, Michael returns as a smaller dog but is safely returned to Alma. The next test subject is Kid Diamond, a local rock star, who insists that Morgus try out the machine first. After a successful test, Kid is turned to sand and placed in a labeled jar on Morgus’ shelf ready for shipment to Mexico City. The next visitor is Jack Smith, a shady character who want Morgus to send some jewels through the machine for shipment to his “dear old mother in Mexico City.” Jack had intended to fly to Mexico City, but Morgus is happy to send him right through the machine and then sends Chopsley down to the police station with the jars of the jewels and thief. Morgus is in the midst of arranging for the jars and the Restorator to be shipped to Mexico City when a policeman arrives, confused about Chopsley’s delivery. Morgus restores the thief, who’s promptly arrested. Then members of a bowling team arrive and ask to be sent to Mexico City. He passes the jars off the Chopsley and tells him to up to “put all four in the box.” So Chopsley dumps the contents of the jars into a box, mixing up all of the sand. Morgus attempts to restore all four people from the mixed up sand and creates a giant blob monster made of their matter. Note: this episode’s plot is very similar to that of the feature film.

Movie: Upon the death of his brother, Larry Talbot returns from America to his ancestral home in Wales. He visits a gypsy camp with village girl Jenny Williams, who is attacked by Bela, a gypsy who has turned into a werewolf. Larry kills the werewolf but is bitten during the fight. Bela’s mother tells him that this will cause him to become a werewolf at each full moon. Larry confesses his plight to his unbelieving father, Sir John, who then joins the villagers in a hunt for the wolf. Transformed by the full moon, Larry heads for the forest and a fateful meeting with both Sir John and Gwen Conliffe.

morgus-1-1

And there you have it, Friends of Science, my look at Morgus the Magnificent.  I hope you enjoyed getting to know or getting reacquainted with this legend of horror hosting.  It was really interesting to me, as I researched Morgus’ on air history, to see the affection for him in multiple cities – most notably New Orleans and Detroit.  We tend to think of horror hosts, especially those early hosts, as being so of their city, and while Morgus is certainly of New Orleans, the character and the writing of the show is of such quality that it’s easy to see why viewers in other cities could so easily adopt him as their own.  Very special thanks to Matt for asking me to write about Morgus and for his persistence in tracking down the episodes for me. For the next update, I’ll be retreating back to my own little corners of the web and handing the reigns back over to Matt who will have you peeking under your bed and into your closet when he covers the Boogieman.  Until then, pleasant dreams….

The Boogieman logo

The Witching Hour Is Close At Hand

Greetings, Inkerinos!  It’s Juliet, once again reporting for guest writing duties here on Rotten Ink.  The last few times I’ve been here, I’ve primarily talked about comics based on TV shows that meant a lot to me at one point or another.  Today, we’re going to do something a little different and talk about a comic series that was not based on a TV show but something else that had a huge impact me on me, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour.49712

For many people, the instant association you make upon hearing Anne Rice’s name is Interview With A Vampire, and while I love that book and the series of books based around the original title, The Witching Hour and the subsequent Lives of the Mayfair Witches series (which did end up crossing over with the Vampire Chronicles books at a few points) remains my favorite of her work.  The Witching Hour was released in 1990.  At the time Rice had already released several Vampire Chronicles novels, the Sleeping Beauty erotica trilogy written under the name A.N. Roquelaure (that I maintain is infinitely better than 50 Shades could ever dream of being, and by the way, a new installment, Beauty’s Kingdom, is being released this month!!!), and many one-shot novels like Cry to Heaven, The Feast of All Saints and The Mummy or Ramses the Damned.  Before I tell you too much about the plot of The Witching Hour, I want to share with you a bit of how I came to read the book, and why Rice’s work is so special to me.

Broadway Opening Of 'Lestat' - Arrivals

Anne Rice

My mother grew up in New Orleans, which is where Anne Rice is also from and where the majority of her books take place at least in part.  There are few authors who hail from and/or celebrate New Orleans in their writing that I can recall my mom reading, talking about, and when I was old enough, sharing with me:  Anne Rice and mystery writer Julie Smith.  More recently I fell head over heels in love with the writing of Romanian-born Andre Cordrescu and was happy to return the favor in a sense by sharing with my mom his New Orleans, Mon Amore. I knew who Anne Rice was long before I actually read her books and actually briefly met her prior to that as well.  The occasion was a book signing here in Ohio at what was then a great, independent local book store (that’s now sadly owned by a chain), and I believe it was for the release of Servant of the Bones.  Because we knew the lines were going to be insanely long, my mom and I went to the bookstore right after I got out of school.  Two things stick out from that day:  my mom and Anne Rice chatting for quite a while about New Orleans and seeing some of the best-dressed goth kids in my young life in line to have their books signed and thinking that I’d LOVE to dress that way.

The Garden District in New Orleans

The Garden District in New Orleans

It would be only a couple more years until I read The Witching Hour, my first time being from the signed hardcover edition my mom had gotten that day.  The book had both an immediate and lasting impression on me as both a reader and writer.  At the time, The Witching Hour was the first adult book that could be considered to be in the horror genre I had read, but even after I moved on to other works by other authors in the genre, it has a special place in my heart because the worldbuilding and family history that make up the story felt really akin to the numerous fantasy paperbacks I spend several summers checking out from the library.  It was a perfect entrance into the horror genre for that, and the fact that it meshed gothic horror with a modern story and an added twist of ritual and magic (which is basically what I would later spend my college career studying…well, the Ancient Greek version of ritual and magic).  I was already writing when I read The Witching Hour, but it’s the first book I can remember reading and thinking, “I want to read more things like this” and then thinking, “maybe I should write things like this” and examining what it was about the story and its structure that worked for me and thinking about how I could apply those elements to what I wanted to write and how to bring a story together to make it effective for a reader.

This is the real house in New Orleans that the Mayfair mansion is based on it.  Anne Rice lived there for many years, and yes, I've made it a point to go see it on every trip to New Orleans since reading the book.

This is the real house in New Orleans that the Mayfair mansion is based on it. Anne Rice lived there for many years, and yes, I’ve made it a point to go see it on every trip to New Orleans since reading the book.

So what is it about?  Without giving away too much, it’s about a family of witches.  But it’s far more complicated than stake burnings and spells.  There’s a mysterious being known as Lasher whose attachment to the family goes back centuries and a prophecy involving the thirteenth witch, all of which is revealed through present-day action and a comprehensive history of the Mayfair family compiled by a strange organization called the Talamascha.

The Witching Hour spawned a sequel called Lasher, and a third book, Taltos followed. In 2000, Merrick began weaving the Vampires Chronicles and the Lives of the Mayfair Witches together.  This would continue in Blackwood Farm and culminate with Blood Canticle, in which Rowan Mayfair and the vampire Lestat finally meet face to face.  At the time, Blood Canticle was to be the final volume of both series as Rice was leaving the horror genre supposedly for good.  Now that she’s returned to her roots with Prince Lestat and a new volume of her Sleeping Beauty erotica series, I can’t help but wonder if (and get super excited at the remote possibility that) Anne Rice might give us another Mayfair Witches story at some point.

LasherNovelCover_TaltosLrgMerrickBlackwoodFarmBlog_Rice_BloodCanticle

Unlike the Interview With a Vampire/The Vampire Chronicles, which had a bit of merchandise and a higher pop culture status because of the films based on two of the books, The Witching Hour/Lives on the Mayfair Witches was pretty contained to the books themselves.  The one notable, though to my knowledge unintended, tie-in was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called Sub Rosa that had a plot very similar to the Witching Hour.  Millennium Comico began what was intended to be a 13 issue series based on The Witching Hour in 1992, perfect timing as Lasher was coming out in ‘93.  We’ll talk about the fate of the series after the comics so remember that we grade these on a 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true the books stays to the source martial.  So let’s travel to New Orleans’ Garden District and meet the Mayfair Witches.811556_01

The Witching Hour  #1  ***1/2
Released in 1992     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #1 of 13

This first issue opens with a doctor who’s been haunted by strange dreams ever since his meeting with a strange Englishman named Aaron Lightner who works for something called The Talamasca.  In their conversation, the doctor had recounted to Lightner how he had first encountered the Mayfair family in their New Orleans Garden District home when he had been summoned to treat Deirdre, a young woman in a seemingly waking coma who was under the care of her three aunts.  As the doctor began to explore treatment options with many roadblocks from the aunts, it was revealed that Deirdre has a daughter in California, and there are strange signs and mentions of “Lasher.”  Then one day, a strange man appears on the front porch.  He’s there to visit Deirdre and oddly, she seems to respond to him, even calling the name Lasher.  But just as soon as he appears, the man disappears.  Lightner tells the doctor that he’s recorded other stories, ghost stories, from the Mayfair house in which people claim to have seen the same man.  We then move, via a tabloid cover, to California where Michael Curry is grappling with both his strange psychic powers and a recent near-drowning from which he was saved by a mysterious woman he’s now obsessed with finding.  Michael reflects on his childhood in New Orleans, thinking he saw the ghost of a man in the Garden District and then blacks out dreaming of being visited by an Englishman there to hear his story.  Next we meet Father Mattingly, a New Orleans priest who recalls Deirdre as a troubled child who claimed to have visions of visitations from a man who her aunts claimed was the devil himself. It’s revealed that Deirdre’s grandmother, Stella, was murdered by her brother Lionel – a crime that the family covered up, and Deirdre’s mother Antha committed suicide by jumping out the window of the house.  There’s talk among the older priests of the legacy of the Mayfair women; their vast wealth and jewels, the fact that even when they marry they do not take their husband’s names, and, of course, the mysterious man who seems to haunt the family.  Father Mattingly wanders to the Mayfair house and notices Deirdre on the porch, but is interrupted by Aaron Lightner who invites him to lunch.  Later that evening, he passes by the house again on his way back to the rectory and notices a young man standing on the porch caring for Deirdre and muses that although he could not save her, he’s glad that this man is there to help her.

As I’m sure you noticed, there’s A LOT going on in this first issue, and yet we barely got anywhere.  I had kind of figured that would happen.  Actually when I agreed to cover The Witching Hour comics for Rotten Ink, I remember telling Matt that I had no clue how they could possibly manage to turn the book into a coherent comic because, as I mentioned above, it’s massive and in-depth and spans years and locations and characters.  This first issue, however, does a damn good job of it.  It’s a really visual book with beautiful, at times water-color-esque artwork that I think really works for this type of story.  A lot of attention was obviously paid to the way the visuals could do what Anne Rice’s prose does in terms of moving the story along and giving you the necessary information to start to piece together the story.  I’m already concerned, however, as to how in the world they’ll ever get this story accomplished in a mere thirteen issues.  I suppose that From Hell was originally done in eleven issues, but those had twice the page count of this first issue.  I fully acknowledge that some things will have to be cut for clarity and space, but it’s not obvious to me what that will be — I’d assume it’s going to be a truncated version of the Mayfair family history as Rowan’s story will probably begin to take precedent as we get further into the series.  Let’s get to issue two and see if that’s indeed the case.512HF8oJwKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The Witching Hour  #2  ***
Released in 1993     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #2 of 13

Issue two begins with Dr. Rowan Mayfair watching a TV broadcast featuring an interview with Michael Curry where he implores the woman who saved him from drowning to come forward so he can thank her.  Rowan recounts the events of Michael’s near death experience, but we learn that she has secrets of her own.  Like Michael, Rowan is plagued by abilities she cannot control; she can kill people via some kind of telekinesis, which we see play out in a flashback from her childhood.  Nevertheless she finally agrees to meet Michael, and with Aaron Lightner looking on from the shadows, the pair form an immediate connection, sharing their deepest, darkest secrets through conversation and their powers which give them an almost psychic bond.  But, Michael is due on a trip to New Orleans, which has Rowan very apprehensive because she was born there but forbidden by her adoptive mother to explore her family history.  Michael’s first stop in New Orleans is to the Garden District house from his youth, the place where he saw the so-called ghost, the moment he attributes to awakening his powers.  At the gate, he sees the man, unchanged from his childhood, and then the figure comes at him, passing through him and confirming that it’s some kind of otherworldly being.  Aaron Lightner is there to witness the whole thing and informs Michael that it’s imperative that they talk.  The book ends with a page of text about a dark ages magician and alchemist called the Talamasca, the first historian of the mystic and the order that grew out from his followers, saying that only its most experienced members deal with witchcraft.IMG_0177

And here we go!  At least I think so.  I hope so. Okay, I should back up.  This issue begins by establishing Rowan and Michael, their powers and their relationship.  It’s a lot to cram into a few pages, and I wonder if people who’d not read the book would understand the depth of the connection and all of the psychic powers information.  Then again, I’m not sure if this is the type of comic that would have gotten a lot of attention from people who hadn’t read the book.  Maybe…maybe not.  It’s odd because this issue felt both slow and rushed until the very end – then it was just right.  When Michael finally arrives in New Orleans and has the experience at the house, I was excited.  Perhaps it’s because that’s the first real moment of action in this issue that wasn’t just a flashback or vague psychic vision.  Actually, and this going to sound weird, the text-only page was the most exciting for me.  I adore the Talamascha. I’m a bit of a sucker for secret societies that study the mystic, and I love that this is one of the things that connects the Mayfair Witches series to Rice’s Vampire Chronicle books (David Talbot is a high ranking member).  I haven’t found any evidence to prove this theory, but I’ve often thought that it was the inspiration for the Watchers Council in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  To make things cooler, this comic included tear-out Talamasca calling cards AND my copy had both cards in tact.  How cool is that?!  Check out the picture above.  Speaking of pictures, the art in this issue was good. It definitely wasn’t as clever in the layout department as the last one, but still a very solid offering.  Let’s get to the next one.218898-19377-116150-1-anne-rice-s-the-witc

The Witching Hour  #3  ***
Released in 1993     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #3 of 13

Rowan awakens from a dream about an incident in her past at a strange hospital.  As she catches her breath, she realizes that someone is standing outside her house and comes face to face with the vision of a man, the same man, she realizes, that Michael has been seeing.  Meanwhile in New Orleans, Aaron Lightner formally introduces himself and the Talamascha, explaining that Michael holds a enormous power and mistakenly thinking that it was Rowan who sent Michael to New Orleans because the infamous belongs to the Mayfairs and will be hers.  Back in California, Rowan receives a call from one of the aunts who had cared for Deirdre, her mother, who is now dead.  Rowan is torn between joining Michael in New Orleans and keeping the promise she made to her adoptive mother to never set foot in the city.  Aaron continues to explain what he and the Talamascha know about the Mayfair family, saying it’s strange that the man made himself visible to Michael because he ought to be after Rowan.  He goes on to say that the Mayfairs are a family of witches and that the man has been attached to the family for centuries.  We see, in a flashback, the circumstances under which Deirdre was made to give up Rowan and learn that there’s a green jewel that’s passed down to the Mayfair women.  Aaron becomes panicked upon learning that Rowan is traveling to New Orleans for the funeral and gives Michael the Talamascha’s journals on the history of the Mayfair Witches.

And here we have a shift from the first part of the book to the second.  But first let’s talk about covers.  The cover for this one is a bit confusing to me because it’s kind of more appropriate for what I assume will be the topic of issue 4, the original Mayfair witch.  Regardless, there’s A LOT happening in this issue, and we move back and forth from Rowan in California to Aaron and Michael in New Orleans with flashbacks sprinkled in.  I think the back and forth worked really in terms of the page layout – without much need for explanation, the reader could move seamlessly from place to place.  That can be challenging in the wrong hands, even with visual support from the artwork, which was the most straightforward/regular comic style we’ve seen in the series so far.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m curious about the pacing of the issues.  It’s taken us three issues for the set up, which seems about right, but the history of the Mayfair Witches is pretty exhaustive so I’m curious how they’ll pull off that AND the actual story of Rowan, Michael and Lasher.  So let’s get to issue four and see what happens.

2898876-anne4

The Witching Hour  #4  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #4 of 13

The history of the Mayfair Witches begins as told by Petyr Van Abel, an agent of the Talamascha in the 17th century.  Petyr arrives in a small French village, where a comtesse named Deborah is to be burned in the square as a witch.  As a child, Deborah had escaped Scotland with the help of Petyr after her mother, Suzanne was also burned for witchcraft. On their journey from Scotland, Deborah refused to speak, save for conversations in the night with someone or something Petyr could not see.  At the Talamascha motherhouse, Deborah had exhibited a strange power, the ability to read the mind of anyone she touched with bare hands through visions, a similar power to Michael’s, and she calls upon a being known as Lasher.  Petyr finds himself falling in love with Deborah, but his loyalty to the Talamascha prevents him from acting on his affection.  Later, when she’s about to be married, Deborah visits Petyr for one night of passion, and he does not see her again.  Back in the village, we learn that Deborah’s daughter Charlotte has escaped the village and it’s persecution, and Petyr vows that he’ll do anything to save Deborah including calling upon “her devil” if need be.  We end in the present with Michael realizing that Deborah is one of the figures that’s been plaguing his dreams and realizes that Lasher is the first word he said after coming back to life from his near-drowning.

I adore the history of the Mayfair Witches so it was fun to finally see it getting under way in the comics.  It’s a very detailed story, but I thought that for the most part, the visuals helped move things along.  The only flaws with the artwork were that the handwriting sections of Petyr’s journal (used as narration) were a bit hard to read and transitions between years and places weren’t as obvious as they were in the last issue.  A couple of times, I had to go back and re-read a section to be sure I was in the right place.  Again, not sure how that would go for someone who hadn’t read the book and was coming at the story completely fresh.  Speaking of the book, this issue did a great job of capturing the feeling of unraveling the story of the witches along with Michael as you and he read the history.  So let’s find out what happens to Deborah and where her daughter Charlotte ended up in issue five, which came out 3 years after issue 4…..uh oh.2901137-ann5

The Witching Hour  #5  **
Released in 1996     Cover price $2.50    Millenium Comico    #5 of 13

It’s the morning of Deborah’s execution, and she’s brought out the village square to burn for her crimes.  She claims innocence but then summons Lasher whose presence is made known in a violent storm.  Deborah is transported to the top of the highest building in the town and then throws herself from it, falling to her death at Petyr’s feet.  Back in the present, Rowan has arrived at her mother’s funeral and is overwhelmed by the large, strange Mayfair family.  Aaron Lightner arrives to apologize for Michael’s absence and accompanies Rowan to her mother’s coffin.  We return to Petyr’s narrative as he arrives in Port Au Prince to visit with Charlotte, who’s revealed to be his daughter.  Charlotte’s husband has fallen ill, and she seduces Petyr in the hopes of baring a daughter who can also communicate with Lasher.  Ashamed of what he had done, Petyr leaves the house later that night and sees Lasher himself, who tortures him with visions of Deborah and the undead.  Petyr’s final letter to the Talamascha reveals that he’s gone mad, terrified to leave Port Au Prince for fear of Lasher.  Back in the present, Aaron tells Michael that with Petyr’s death, the Talamascha decided not to engage with the Mayfair’s directly, but simply to observe them from afar, which is what they’ve been doing ever since.  He then tells him that it’s imperative that Michael continues to read the history.

…..And that’s it.  Seriously.  The series just ends.  Not only do we miss out on the rest of the history of the Mayfair witches, which is an awesome story, but we basically entirely miss out the whole Rowan-Lasher story, which is a big freaking deal because (spoiler alert): she’s the thirteenth witch.  The writing was all over the wall, or rather, the page with this one.  First of all, it came out three years after the rest of the series and was only labeled as issue #5, not #5 of 13 like the others.  The artwork was different than (though trying to mimic the style of) the rest of the series, and even the paper seemed cheaper.  It strikes me as more strange that they even bothered with a slapped together fifth issue so far after the fact rather than just never continuing the series after issue 4.  After waiting that long, it must have been such a disappointment to original readers/fans of the series.  Obviously they didn’t know that they wouldn’t finish it when the book was planned, but part of me wonders if it wouldn’t have been wiser to do a series focused exclusively on the history of the Mayfair family rather than incorporating the modern story into the book.

Scan 50

This was a disappointing end to a promising series, and it feels like an extra shame because there’s so little out there about the Witching Hour.  Perhaps if another Lives of the Mayfair Witches book does come out, a great modern company like IDW or Dark Horse will take on some kind of comic adaptation of one of the stories.  Here’s hoping. While I go back to my bookshelves, it’s time for you to join Matt on a field trip to the Rotten Ink theater for another installment of Marvel at the Movies, coming up next time.

marvel-at-the-movies 2