From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Zombi 2

Happy Scary Halloween! For this year’s spooky holiday update I decided to do a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update based on one of my favorite Italian horror movies that was directed by one of Italy’s best directors, the godfather of splatter & gore, Lucio Fulci, and the comic series released by one of the world’s best Indie comic companies going, Eibon Press! I am sure that by now you guessed that I am talking about “Zombi 2.” This is one that is long over due and one that I have been looking forward to reading and reviewing here at Rotten Ink, and after a very terrible 2020, I figured why not make it this Halloween update as this is sure to make your holiday a little more spooky! So if you’re ready, let’s get on this boat the S.S. Eibon and set sail for the island of the dead. Along the way we have to watch out for sharks and the zombies of the ocean as they are both super hungry and super deadly. Oh, I do want to say that this update does have spoilers.

Let’s first break down the zombies of this film and their way of dealing with the living that are foolish enough to be in their paths. The zombies in Zombi 2 are undead reanimated bodies that range from freshly dead to the long dead and have a hunger for human flesh and guts that drive them to find their meal. In appearance, the zombies range from rotten flesh to bloody flesh and can use their looks to frighten and shock their human victims as, for example, they can be missing eyes and have open eye sockets complete with worms crawling out! The zombies will shuffle and stalk alone or in large groups and seem to also be smart in some of their attacks, not to mention that in a massive horde they could overtake and overwhelm a person or even a group of people. But I also do not want to downplay how dangerous they are on their own as one zombie could easily sneak up and take a bite out of you. These zombies can swim and walk under water. They do not need air and can take gunshots and massive hits to the body and still get back up to try to rip you apart. The zombies use their hands and teeth to rip away your flesh and do not slow down or get tired, making them super dangerous to the living; not to mention a bite from them can be toxic and lead to becoming one yourself. The zombies do have a few weaknesses though.  The main way to bring them down is head trauma and that means a gunshot to the brain or bashing the brain in with a heavy object. They can also be stopped with fire; if you set them ablaze, they will eventually fall and not get back up. Like all zombies, the ones in Zombi 2 are very hungry and very dangerous and the more of them there are, the more your days are numbered.

Now that we all understand that the zombies of Zombi 2 are flesh eating terrors that will not stop until they are ripping your guts out and scarfing them down, we should now take a look at the cult classic film that they are from and that really is one of my all time favorite films from Italy. As always, I will be taking the film’s plot from our friends at IMDB and after I will write briefly about the film’s production and then share about my thoughts on the film. So sit back and alert the crew that the boat can leave now.

Zombie (1979)

“A zombie is found aboard a boat off the New York coast which belongs to do a famous scientist. Peter West, a journalist, travels to the Antilles with Ann, the daughter of the scientist. On the way, they meet with with Brian, an ethnologist, and Susan. When they arrive at Matul Island, they find Dr. Menard, and discover a terrifying disease which is turning the islanders into horrifying zombies which devour human flesh and seem indestructible.”

In 1978, George Romero with Dario Argento released Dawn Of The Dead as Zombi in Italy, and the film was a mega hit. With that enter producer Fabrizio De Angelis, who wanted to make a “sequel” and tried to bring filmmaker Enzo G. Castellari on to direct but he turned it down. And then enter Lucio Fulci who was coming off two very good splatter horror films and was making a name for himself as an up and coming horror director. The screenwriter was Dardano Sacchetti, who called the script “Nightmare Island” and was very much inspired by the novel The Island Of Doctor Moreau and classic zombie films like Voodoo Island and I Walked With A Zombie.

Filming started in June 1979 in Latina, Italy with shots in New York City and Santo Domingo. Actors like Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Olga Karlatos and Al Cliver were hired on with Fabio Frizzi joining to score the zombie fright flick. During filming, the producers lied to the actors as no trailers were provided for them and it was a very demanding film to shoot, with even the classic shark vs. zombie scene being shot without Fulci even knowing about it!

When finished, the film was rushed to Italian Cinemas for release on August 25, 1979. It would hit English speaking markets in 1980 and was a major hit world wide and built a very big cult following. In fact, in England the film was labeled as a Video Nasty and was banned! Years after its released it found even more success on home video, DVD and Blu-Ray, becoming a must have film for horror collectors.

When the film was released in 1979, it was joined by such Horror Classics as Phantasm, The Amityville Horror, Alien, Tourist Trap, Savage Weekend, Capture Of Bigfoot and Salem’s Lot, to name a few. The film was followed by Zombi 3 (that was also partly directed by Fulci) and then the series here in America would have more sequel numbers slapped on VHS boxes that really were just other films from foreign markets like After Death, Killing Birds, Absurd and A Virgin Among The Living Dead, to name a few. If you have never seen Zombie and are a major fan of zombie films or even Italian horror, do yourself a major favor and give it a watch.

I first heard of Zombie thanks to the book Gore Score by Chas Balun, who peeked my interest when he kept talking how about a splinter going into a woman’s eye changed his life and gave it very high on the gore level. I would see more coverage of the film in the pages of old Fangoria Magazines, and seeing pictures of the worm-eyed zombie locked it in my mind that I had to see the film someday! For years I waited for the film to play on TV as well as looked for it at video rental stores my parents visited and could not find it, and this was so frustrating.

Years would pass, and as a teenager, I was finally able to find a copy of the film on VHS at Suncoast in the Dayton Mall and I was hyped to get home and watch it. While the quality of the film transfer was poor, after watching the film I became hooked as I loved so much about it. The gore was fantastic, the zombies looked creepy, the score was top notch, the atmosphere was spooky and the ladies were beautiful with Olga Karlatos who played Mrs. Menard being stunning. Plus seeing the splinter to the eye scene that haunted the nightmares of Balun was as gruesome as I imagined and truly grossed me out. The crazy thing is that this film is a sequel to a sequel that spawned more sequels…and in reality this film has zero to do with Dawn Of The Dead and was a cheap cash in that ended up being really good and can stand on its own and became a cult classic. Plus I am not going to lie, I really do also like Zombi 3 that was its follow up, but Dawn Of The Dead’s follow up Day Of The Dead is my favorite zombie film of all time.

Over the years I have often recommended this film to my friends who enjoy horror films if they have never seen it and enjoy Italian films. And of course over the years I have owned this film on VHS and DVD and it still remains in my top 10 best zombie films of all time list! I will say that at times some horror fans tend to make fun of this film due to a scene of a zombie fighting a shark and hands down that scene is awesome and sets it apart from all the other undead films that flooded the market at that time. Over all this is a great film and if any of you readers have not seen this film, make sure to check it out!

Like all cult horror movies, Fulci’s Zombie has had its fair share of cool merchandise for fans that include posters, t-shirts, buttons/pins, toys, comics, hats, books, CDs, magazines and of course the film on all types of home media. Over the years I have had my fair share of items based around Zombie like the classic Blackest Heart Media soundtrack on CD, the original Zombie graphic novel, and t-shirts with worm eyed zombie on it. I own a rubber figure of worm eyed zombie that was made by Rubber Monsters, and I have the enamel pin that my cousin Stephen got me. Plus of course I have the full set of comics from Eibon Press that in my opinion are must own comics for any horror comic reader.

I also want to take a moment to remind readers about Eibon Press, the masterminds behind the Fulci Comic universe that not only includes Zombie but also mini series based on The Beyond, Gates Of Hell and House By The Cemetery!

Eibon Press is an indie comic company that is for fans of horror comics and horror movies as. They do a fantastic job of bringing these films to pages and keeping true to the source but also adding their own touches and adding to the classic stories delivering ghoulish nightmare soaked pages. They also have comics based on other film series like 1980’s Maniac and Laserblast, plus original series like Bottomfeeder and Wasteland 1989 proving they can also deliver original frights to readers. Shawn Lewis, who is also the main man behind Rotten Cotton, is the brains behind Eibon Press, and hands down if you readers and friends have yet to check them out, make sure to do so as they are doing some really killer horror comics. Make sure to support indie comic companies as they are the ones who are truly allowing creative minds to express their ideas and bring stories to life. They are also the ones who are not taking the cookie cutter route of Marvel and DC and making comics based on fresh ideas as well as cult classic films that go beyond Star Wars and other Hollywood blockbusters. Long live Eibon Press as well as all the other micro and indie comic companies that are making comic reading fun again!

Before we move on, let’s also talk about just how crazy the world of Zombi is and how it has sparked a truckload of sequels and re-labeled films shoehorned into the series!

So we all know that Zombi is the title for George Romero’s 1978 classic Dawn Of The Dead in Italy and that the Fulci film Zombi 2 called Zombie here in America is an unofficial sequel. But here is where things get crazy: the real Zombi 3 was directed by Fulci, and yet there is Zombie 3: Return Of The Zombies that is just the Paul Naschy film The Hanging Woman renamed and released in the U.S. on VHS.

The fourth film in the series, Zombie 4: After Death, is really just the film After Death that has the Zombie title slapped on it, and there is also Zombie 4: A Virgin Among The Living Dead, a VHS release here in America that is just a Jesus Franco film with the Zombie 4 prefix tacked to it! And the tacked on title of Zombie continued with the fifth film as Zombie 5: Killing Birds was an Italian film called just Killing Birds, and here in the U.S. on VHS we had Zombie 5: Revenge In The House Of Usher that is another Jesus Franco film. Now we are getting into the rest of the VHS releases here in America, all put out by T-Z Video with Zombie 6: Monster Hunter that is just the Joe D’Amato film Absurd!

Many other films have been tagged with the Zombie label such as Anthropophagus, Night Of The Seagulls, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Zombie Holocaust, Nightmare City, Pulgasari, Panic, Burial Ground, Zombie ’90 and The Dead Next Door, to name a few! So as you can see, this series is a mess and is filled with tons of false sequels to the original films, and to be honest, someone in the indie filmmaking world should take up the mantel from T-Z Video of making and releasing zombie films with the Zombie brand taped onto the covers. Below are the covers for the films that have Zombie tagged onto the film by T-Z Video.

So as you can see, these zombies are true flesh eating soulless killing machines and are in one of Italy’s best horror movies ever made, and thanks to Eibon Press, they also got this comic series! First I want to thank Shawn Lewis and everyone at Eibon Press for doing these comics as the world needs more spooky comics based films and they are delivering and have many more to come. I also want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready, let’s head to this island filled with the dead and see why the dead are rising.

Zombie # 1  ***
Released in 2016   Cover Price $10.00   Eibon Press   # 1 of 8

A voodoo ceremony is going down, and after a sacrifice, a zombie tribal priest type figure named Biacando comes alive! Doctor David Menard wakes up from a feverish dream of that event and then has to shoot a dead patient in the head that was bitten by his dead wife. This is when Menard knows that the dead have risen. We then cut to a boat in New York that appears to be unmanned. The harbor cop comes aboard, and they find that a fat bloated zombie is on the ship. He kills one cop and the other guns down the bloated zombie down who falls overboard into the cold water below. Reporter Peter West reports to work and gets an assignment to check out the pier near where the cop and the bloated zombie were killed. While at the hospital, the dead cop comes back and kills the two doctors, spreading the zombie infection. Near the edge of the water a homeless man is attacked by the bloated zombie, who is now also in New York! Meanwhile Peter West meets Ann Bowles, the daughter of the man who owned the abandoned boat, and together the sneak into the pier at night to see if they can get answers as her father has been missing for a while now while working on an exotic island and the police are being rude and no help. While on board Anne finds a letter from her father that tells of a disease, a native tribe and unknown things on the Island of Matul. Peter gets his bosses at the paper to allow him to travel with Anne to the island to break this scoop that could be the biggest story in the world. While in Jamaica, Anne and Peter hire vacationing couple Bryan Hull and Susan Barrett to take them to Matul as a man with a voodoo doll watches them sail off.

This first issue of Zombie brings elements of the Lucio Fulci film as well as original plots from the mind of writer Stephen Romano! The plot of the issue has zombies infecting the island of Matul as well as later New York and a journalist and a missing doctor’s daughter are traveling to get the answers they seek after reading a letter written by her dad and left on a boat that washed into NY’s harbor.

The new plot elements that break away from the film show the natives of Matul bringing on the curse of the undead, complete with a clearly powerful zombie named Biacando! They also add in the fact that Peter West had a brother that was murdered on his first day out as a cop by a drug pusher, and that they were close…I smell the dead brother returning from the grave in a future issue. They also show the classic bloated zombie coming out of the water and making his way into New York and also stress that he is in fact the one who starts the zombie invasion in America.

Peter West is a goofball who admits to himself he is bad at his job of being a reporter and if not for his uncle owing the paper, he would have been fired long ago. But while bad at it, he still has the heart and right frame of mind when he gets wind of this story that could be the biggest the world has ever read if all works out right.

Ann Bowles is a strong willed woman who is not taking crap from the cops and wants to find her father and figure out why his boat was being sailed by someone other then him, and she even will team with a reporter she doesn’t know in order to get what she seeks.

We are only introduced briefly to Doctor David Menard, who worked with Ann’s father on Matul and who is stressed out and worn down by the zombies, as well as Bryan and Susan, the married couple who are enjoying life off the island of Jamaica, as Bryan is a retired Green Beret and Susan is a journalist for a nature publication.

The zombies are flesh hungry and brutal in nature as they just don’t eat the living, they massacre them! It’s great seeing the bloated zombie come alive in comic pages, and plus I want to know more about Biacando, who I am sure is a major force in what’s spreading this disease, as with every zombie kill, it seems maybe his spirit is around.

The comic does not shy away from blood, guts, gore and nudity and each kill is done in a glorious splatter fashion, and fans of comics like The Dead (Arrow Comics) and the original Walking Dead (Aircel Comics) will surely be pleased in the gore department. The cover for this first issue is very eye catching and will surely please fans of the film as it showcases the film’s most popular zombie. The interior art work is top notch and is a team up of artists Michael Broom with additional art by Derek Rook, and these guys capture the gritty nature of indie horror comics as well as Italian horror movies really well. To sum up this first issue, I will say that it’s a very solid horror comic that is doing the film its based on justice thus far and the creators adding their own touch makes it feel fresh and new. Let’s see what issue two has in store for us via story and gore!

Zombie # 2  ***
Released in 2016    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 2 of 8

Doctor David Menard is once more having a dream about the tribe and the undead Biacando, who is doing more and more brutal sacrifices, and worse Doctor Menard finds that the hospital’s radio is no longer working and his wife Olga Menard is now upset. They get into an argument as she wants to leave and he wants to stay as he thinks he is close to finding a cure! And when things get too heated, Doctor Menard slaps Olga and she alerts him that she hates his guts! Later that night Olga is home alone taking a shower and unbeknownst to her, zombies are outside watching and looking for a way inside. They break in and force her eye onto a giant wood splinter and end her life. Meanwhile Peter, Ann, Bryan and Susan are on the boat heading toward Matul when Susan asks them to stop so that she can dive and get some underwater photos. Once in the water, a zombie attacks her and she only escapes from by using razor sharp coral that she scraps across its face. As Susan swims back to the boat and tells her story of a bloody man in the water which insights Bryan to be mad at Peter as he feels the reporter is not telling him the truth on what is going on in Matul. Meanwhile, the zombie ends up fighting with a shark! After Peter shares what he knows about the island and the rumor of the undead curse, they get on a rowboat and head toward Matul as Doctor David Menard watches them approach.

In this second issue our “heroes” are almost to the island, and while taking a break, they find a zombie under water. The threat of voodoo and the undead really starts to sink in, while Doctor David Menard decides that he will find a cure, even if it costs him his marriage and life.

The second issue once more is mostly based on the cult film from 1979, and once more the Eibon Press crew added their own touches to it that add a fresh layer to the comic and also adds more of a backstory to many of the characters! First, they show that David Menard was a man who really only has cared about experiments and even was a part of some in World War II. Olga Menard was shown to have been a lady of the night way before she married Menard and has looked at all these people who used and abused her as monsters. Lastly they hint that Susan was assaulted by her father when she was a youngster…adding many dirty secret layers to them.

Peter is one of those “hero” characters that have somewhat good intentions, but along the way he comes off as a snarky smartass. At one point when Bryan is upset that his wife was attacked by a man at the bottom of the Ocean and looks to Peter for answers as its on his request they are heading toward a cursed island that will only really benefit Peter (and somewhat Ann) as he will get a story that will make him famous. Ann kind of takes a backseat in this issue and is on the boat but keeps mostly to herself besides trying to keep Susan calm after seeing the zombie in the water. Bryan and Susan at first seem to be game to drop their paying guests at the island and start to second guess their decision when they notice that the legends of the island could be true.

Doctor David Menard is a man on a mission for answers, but sadly his want to find a cure is not fully in order to help mankind as its more to fulfill his ego to be the best. Poor Olga Menard; we hardly get to know her before she becomes dinner for zombies.

This issue again pulls no punches on the blood and guts and delivers the splinter to the eye death and its done pretty damn well! The cover is cool and eye catching and features another key zombies from the film, and the interior art is top notch and done by Michael Broom with others. So far this is very great series, and I cannot stress how cool it is that this adaptation has some new fresh elements added to the plot to deliver a familiar and yet new experience. Let’s see what issue three has in store for us!

Zombie # 3  ***
Released in 2017    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 3 of 8

Doctor David Menard has the island’s new guests in his jeep and is heading back to the hospital when he tells Ann about the death of her father that had him being taken into the tribe of Biacando and that he along with the hospital crew went into the tribe and shot all the undead including Biacando and returned her father to the hospital where he was infected and turned into a zombie and Menard himself pulled the trigger when he reanimated. The boat crew was sent to New York for supplies and had orders to dump infected bodies into the ocean, and Menard says they must have been infected before they arrived in America. Once back at the hospital nurse Stephanie runs out and alerts Menard that his friend Fritz is inside in bad shape. Menard gives his guests the keys to the jeep and asks them to check in on his wife and to wash up as he will come for them a little later as he rushes inside. Peter, Ann, Susan and Bryan take the jeep and head to his house, and they don’t think his story of voodoo adds up. Things get worse for them as they enter the house and find his wife being eaten by zombies that are now all over the place as they are hungry and they are on the menu! Bryan snaps and grabs a shovel and smashes zombie skulls, and the group makes it safely to the jeep as the voodoo drums once more fill the air. Unlucky for them, a little way down the road the jeeps engine just stops working and they know they have to get to the hospital for shelter as the zombies are coming. While at the hospital, Doctor David Menard has to shoot his injured friend who turns into a zombie and orders his two helpers Lucas and nurse Stephanie to lock all the doors and windows. Meanwhile Peter and the rest are making a run for the hospital and have to go through an old cemetery, and as they take a momentary breather, the ground beneath them starts to rumble. The long dead are also coming back to life, and one with worms in one of his eye sockets takes a bite out of Susan’s neck, killing her! Peter and Ann help the shocked and sad Bryan as more and more zombies are coming.

This third issue is super action packed as the plot has our heroes meeting the island doctor who gives them answers to some of their questions. They discover the half eaten and mutilated body of the doctor’s wife, battle their way through zombie and lose one of their own to the series’ top zombie in Worm Eye! And this all happens super fast.

We also get more of a look into Biacando whose voodoo that is causing all of this and who is the one who infected Ann’s dad with the infection that lead to his death and then re-death at the hands of his own friend.

It’s clear by this third issue that Doctor David Menard is a man on the edge as the stress and the horrors he has seen on this island are starting to really get to him, and being the kind of guy he is, giving up and running away is not an option. I mean it’s crazy as so far in the series, he has had to shoot two of his close friends in the head after they have returned as zombies, not to mention all the other villagers he has had to do this with and soon he will find out his wife as well has fallen victim to this infection!

Bryan and Susan are clearly second guessing themselves as they went to this cursed island only because strangers offered money and they had a intriguing story…but thus far all they have gotten is Bryan losing his mind and flashing back to his military days and Susan ends up dead with a bite hole in her neck! Peter and Ann have gotten answers about the death of her father as well as a little about the infection that is bringing the dead back to life, but they don’t fully trust what they have been told! Also it’s clear that they are now also starting to fall for each other and that they all must watch out for one another if they want to get off the island alive.

Poor Stephanie and Lucas are trying to help with the sickness and the dead at the hospital, but it’s clear they are scared out of their minds.

The main attraction of course is seeing the Worm Eyed Zombie do his thing and take a chunk out of Susan’s neck! Like before, this issue adds its own touches to the adaptation like showing Ann’s father was under the cursed charm of Biacando and Bryan going crazy with a shovel and bashing and smashing zombies at Menard’s home. The jeep’s engine fails, and they don’t crash into a tree like in the film. Those are just some of the small and big changes. The story is reaching the fever pitch of what is to come with the living against the dead in a showdown of survival, and this comic series is doing a great job of building the hype! The cover is eye catching and once more showcases a zombie from the film, and the interior art by Michael Broom and Derek Rook is top notch and is perfect for a horror comic based on a film. This issue also pours out the blood and guts on the pages and has some true splatter moments! So let’s see what issue four has in store for us.

Zombie # 4  ***
Released in 2017    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 4 of 8

Peter takes charge in the cemetery as Bryan is breaking down over the death of his wife Susan while zombies are surrounding them. Finally Peter is able to get them all to run and make it to the boarded up hospital. Inside Doctor David Menard is getting Stephanie and Lucas to get bottles and kerosene to make molotov cocktails, and then lets in Peter and the others who inform him that his wife is dead and that the hospital is being surrounded by zombies! Doctor David Menard informs Bryan to go to a closet to fetch guns to arm themselves, and then the Doctor wanders off and records his final message before being eaten by a zombie as he has embraced death. Poor Stephanie and Lucas also get attacked and eaten by zombies leaving Peter, Ann and Bryan to fend for themselves. The three hold their ground and use guns and the molotov cocktails on as many of the undead as they can, and once the hospital is burning down, they run out the back door and standing there is the zombie of Susan…who bites Bryan. Peter shoots her, and the three rush back to the boat and set sail to get back to New York. Meanwhile Doctor David Menard is now a zombie and gets the call from Biacando, who clearly had more plans for the dead. As Peter and Ann listen to the confessions of war from Bryan, he dies, and they store his body in the belly of the boat to use him as proof of their story. As the couple get close to New York, they hear on the boat’s radio that the zombies are now in New York and have started to slaughter and kill and that things are really bad. As they listen, zombie Bryan busts out of the door and charges for an attack as we end this issue with hordes of zombies entering the city.

The adaptation part of this comic series comes to an end with this issue, and it goes out with a massive bang and does a great job of building up the excitement of what is to come as it’s clear the zombies are many and mankind needs to take a stand to try and end this terror. And I have to say that writer Stephen Romano did a fantastic job of capturing the feel and spirit of the Fulci film as well as added his own touches that truly brought a new level of fright to the story. The stuff he added was well done as he fleshed out the characters of Peter West, Ann Bowles, Doctor David Menard, Olga Menard among others and this was wise as it made you understand the characters better and showcased some of their dark secrets.

I also like how he added the touch that maybe the zombies are not being brought back by voodoo or an infection as it could also be the fault of toxic waste that has been hidden on the island thanks to Doctor David Menard and his shady war crime past. That’s the thing, Doctor David Menard clearly did some terrible things during war and should have been jailed, but thanks to his knowledge and friends in dark places, he and his wife were spared paying for what he did…it’s also crazy as he is now a zombie, and I am sure he will be coming back into play later in the series. To me it seemed like when he got the news that his wife was dead and zombie food, he lost the will to live and was sick of running from his past.

Peter West is the story’s main hero as he fights through the fear and doubt and does what he can to keep Ann safe as well as watch after Bryan who is losing it due to the killing of his wife. Peter shows great growth as he starts off as a snarky reporter and by the end he turns into a reluctant hero.

Ann and Bryan are great backup characters, and I like that Bryan at the end is a zombie and could continue on in later issues. Biacando, the zombie witch doctor, is also still around as Dr. Menard as a zombie goes to him, and this is cool, as I cannot to see what Biacando is and why he is!

The end of New York being attacked by zombies is truly awesome as it’s a bloodbath of flesh and blood being spilled all over the place and shows just how easily a zombie apocalypse could be upon us all if one would to break out. With that said, the issue does not shy away from blood, guts, gore and some nudity delivering a truly classic horror comic feel. The cover is great and showcases another amazing zombie from the film, and I cannot praise the interior artwork of Michael Broom and Derek Rook enough as their style is so fitting for a comic like this. I have to say that the first four issues of Zombie is really great stuff and everyone at Eibon Press and the creators who have done this series should be proud of it, as it truly is a treat for horror comic readers! So with that, let’s see what issue five has in store for us and where this series goes beyond the movie’s plot as I am really hyped to read and find out!

Zombie # 5  ***
Released in 2017    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 5 of 8

The zombie of Doctor David Menard is now under the orders of zombie witch doctor Biacando who has chosen Menard to continue his experiments this time, on zombies…and has replaced his fingers with needles. Meanwhile in New York, the city is overrun with zombies. Peter has taken Ann on a date to a fancy restaurant. When zombies bust in, Peter guns them down and after clearing them out, the couple is confronted by Colonel Louis Fulci who at first thinks that Peter and Ann are looters but soon after killing more incoming zombies takes them along to their base. Meanwhile in a cemetery William West, who is Peter’s brother who was a cop and murdered while on duty, has returned from the grave and is mad when he flashes back to his funeral and the fact his brother did not cry for him. Now the zombie cop wants answers! Back at the base camp, Colonel Fulci informs them that he and his men are the only hope right now of keeping these zombies in New York, and Peter tells him about the Island as well as how they had stayed on the boat for months after killing their friend Bryan again once he turned into a zombie. He says that after running out of food they had to come to shore to get something to eat when he and his men found them. Colonel Fulci then alerts them that he has heard of Doctor David Menard and is looking for a toxic waste dump site that is said to be what is bring the dead back to life! Colonel Fulci’s campsite is a grindhouse movie theater and he takes his two new allies out and shows them the street that is filled with thousands of zombies. He and his men open fire on the zombies as well as blast them with flamethrowers, after many of the zombies are down for the final count, Ann informs him she might have an idea where the toxic dump is!

Months after the events of the film, the state of New York is in really bad shape as the zombies are all over and have killed most of the living. A group of Army soldiers lead by a tough as nails Colonel is our only hope, and Peter and Ann find themselves in another blood soaked adventure as they tag along for the ride with the soldiers.

Peter and Ann are clearly a couple now and just want to have a little bit of normalcy to their lives as they live on Bryan’s boat until they run out of food and only then adventure into the city only to find it a wasteland of death and destruction.

Colonel Fulci is a man on a mission to kill all the zombies they see and get to the bottom of this undead nightmare, though he clearly has a dark side as he has a very bad reputation that is known by Peter West. On a side note, I love the fact Colonel Fulci looks like director Lucio Fulci as it’s a great touch to let the true godfather of gore’s memory stay alive. I also look forward to seeing more of Colonel Fulci’s history unfold and if the world can really trust him.

The zombies are truly everywhere now and are looking for blood and guts as they want to show that this is their world now and that mankind is coming to an end. Biacando is using his voodoo to bring the zombies all together on the island as well is forcing the undead Doctor David Menard to do some experiments that I am sure will help make the zombies even more unstoppable. I also like that Doctor David Menard has embraced his undead nature and even removes his own fingers to replace with needles. Something tells me what ever they are up to on the island will be very bad for the world.

The use of 42nd Street in this issue is also really cool as the street back in the 70’s and 80’s was very much filled with many adult theaters and shops and was the place to see grindhouse films…so it’s great seeing it the way it was not the tourist stop it has become. The issue is filled with lots of blood and gore like before, and we even get cameos from The Worm Eyed Zombie as well as the Bloated Zombie and they are always welcome additions to see in issues.

Writer Stephen Romano did a great job making this feel like it belongs in the Zombie universe and ties it into the film really well by delivering classic characters in a new storyline as well as bring in new ones with a plot that has depth. The cover is fun and has Peter and Ann looking like they just stepped out of a James Bond movie poster, and the interior art is done by Pat Carbajal and is great as his style does a great job of capturing the likeness of the actors and characters. Over all this original story kick off in the Fulci Zombie universe is well done and feels like a true sequel to the film series. Let’s see what issue six has in store for not only us the readers but also the characters!

Zombie # 6  ***
Released in 2018    Cover Price $10.00    Eibon Press    # 6 of 8

Doctor Menard is being followed by zombies as they enter a hut of a female villager and her son. It’s clear that Menard is not like the other zombies as he can talk and takes the life of the young boy and alerts the mom that the future is here! While back in New York the fires still burn as Colonel Fulci goes on the news and explains that it’s up to him and his men to save the world from the undead. As Ann and Peter argue over the tactics he is using to do so, Colonel Fulci shows up with a gun to the head of Peter as the Colonel alerts Ann to the fact that Peter is the one who got him thrown out of the military and his story lead to the death of many soldiers! Colonel Fulci then says that he is going to kill Peter as all he really needs is Ann to find the island of Dr. Menard! Meanwhile Dr. Menard has taken the woman from the hut and has her rigged up to machines and then shows her his grand plan of making the zombies more powerful with upgrades. He also speaks of time travel and the ways of the past with the ways of the future. Menard then shows that if he injects his blood into the zombies it makes the stronger, and their power comes from their eyes…he also shows that he has saved Worm Eyed Zombie and places one of the zombie’s worms into the eye of the mom and alerts her that he is the kid’s father and once they had an affair that lead to the child…but the mom fights off the infection, and this is interesting to Menard. The President Of The United States is then shown to be the one who sent Colonel Fulci into New York. He wants the zombie hordes taken care of fast as he is worried the press will figure out the he ordered the attack on the city by the rogue military that has left many civilians dead! As Colonel Fulci and his crew head to the island, they push Peter out of the helicopter into the middle of Central Park with a gun that only has six bullets, and unlucky for him, the park is packed with tons of zombies! Ann meanwhile has had enough and when the soldiers are ordered to torture her for information on the island, she snaps and kicks some ass, which even leads to Colonel Fulci being shot. She alerts him that her mom was a Marine and now she is in charge of this mission. In the end Peter watches as a escaped zoo gorilla rips apart zombies, and when the beast sets his sights on him, his undead zombie cop brother shows up and starts fighting the beast!

This series is getting more and more crazy as the lore of the Zombie universe gets more and more dark and weird!

The plot of this issue has Dr. Menard doing experiments on the dead to make them more powerful as he is preparing for war and wants to take down the world as we all know it! While Peter and Ann are stuck with a crazy man and his army that are secretly being given orders by the American President!

Dr. Menard has changed so much thus far in the series as he starts out as a man trying to crack the code of what is causing the dead to rise. By now he himself is a undead mad scientist who loves creating this new type of zombie and even as a man he took advantage of a young village girl and had a child with her! Speaking of that villager, her name is Jamilya and she was only 16 years old when he met her, and with the promise of teaching her medicine he seduced her, got her pregnant and now has turned their son into and zombie and wants to do the same to her, but she seems like a fighter!

Colonel Fulci is a sadistic madman who clearly doesn’t care about human lives and only cares about finishing his mission, plus it’s now clear he is the hired gun for the President! Ann and Peter are prisoners of Fulci, and when Peter is shown to have a past with Fulci that gives him a death sentence and Ann shows that she is sick of this all and proves she can take care of herself!

Plus the issue features Worm Eyed Zombie, Bloated Zombie and as well as zombies based on other cool zombie film characters! Now I have to say that I feel that the machine experiments are a little blah as I like the voodoo aspect of the curse more, but with that said, I cannot wait so see how it plays out and makes me wonder where this is going…and I guess I should also say it’s an interesting twist to add these wires and machines and takes it out of the classic style of zombie films and comics. One really cool aspect of the comic is that the President looks like one of my favorite horror actors Joe Spinell and the Gorilla is based after the look of King Kong from 1976! Oh I should also say that Peter’s undead cop brother fighting the gorilla is the Zombie vs. Shark moment for this comic series.

The cover for both the Eibon Sleeve and the issue are great and show case zombies as well as the Kong inspired Gorilla! And the interior art by Pat Carbajal is fantastic like before. I have to stress that thus far Eibon Presses Zombie series is a fantastic read and is the best comic series that features zombies I have ever read…and is way more entertaining then Image Comics Walking Dead Series and more bloody and creepy than it as well!

Zombie # 7  ***
Released in 2018   Cover Price $10.00   Eibon Press   # 7 of 8

Jamilya is fighting hard to not become a mindless zombie and watches as Dr. Menard and Biacando take the heart of her son and place it inside a weird humanoid that was born from her when she threw it up! She escapes her bindings and runs off into the jungle after taking out a few zombies and promising to return for her son. While back in New York, Peter and his undead cop brother William team up and with a bullet to its brain kill the rampaging gorilla. Peter is in shock as he watches his brother speak and the zombies around listen! While in Washington D.C. the President has a plan to use a nuke on New York to stop the zombies, and when questioned about his motives, he shoots and kills a general and continues with his attack plan. Back at the base, Ann has Fulci tied up and is torturing him with his own sword, as she has ordered some of his soldiers to go back to Central Park and rescue Peter and if her boyfriend is dead, she tells Fluci that his life will also come to a bloody end. When the Helicopter arrives Peter along with William are on board, but so is a horde of zombies that attack Fulci and his remaining men who become lunch! While Jamilya uses her own voodoo knowledge to try and beat the curse on herself and gears up for war against Biacando! Back at the base Ann along with Peter know that they have to return to the island and end this undead curse once and for all.They soon learn that Colonel Fulci and his men are now zombies and willing to be the army needed to fight against Biacando and burn Matul to the ground!

The war between the living and the undead is about to go off, and this issue is the build up to that war and sadly also to the final issue in this series!

Ann, Peter, William and the undead Colonel Fulci and his men are gearing up and ready to go to Matul and wipe out the evil voodoo curse that is plaguing the world. Ann is showing that she is one tough lady as she proves she has a killer instinct when she tortures Fulci and barks orders at his men that are listening to her orders!

Colonel Fulci, who is an S.O.B., is mean spirited all the way until the very end, and even when he gets his eye poked out and faced slashed up, he still trash talks! And oddly enough, once he is attacked by zombies and turned into one he seems to be more on track to team with Ann and Peter to head to the island and bring it all down. Peter and his zombie brother William are a team once more, and we learned that they moved to America after they defended themselves and left one person dead. Now William can speak to the dead and some zombies seem to follow his orders.

Jamilya..what can be said about her besides she is awesome and not only does she escape the zombie hell, but she also shakes off the infection with her will and own voodoo powers and is also on a one woman warpath to save her son and end these zombies’ reign of terror.

Dr. Menard and Biacando are showing they are pure evil and are mixing old voodoo with modern technology and medicine to create super zombies whose eyes are the key to their souls. And the President clearly doesn’t care about the lives of the people as he is willing to drop a nuke on New York to kill the zombies and save his own hide and bury his dirty little secrets.

This is a great read and I am cheering for Jamilya as she is a great original character created by the Eibon team, and I am sure will be joining with Ann and Peter in the fight against the evil zombies. The issue has a lot of blood and guts, and sadly the Gorilla meets his end with a bullet to his brain, and it’s a shame as it would have been awesome to seen the Gorilla turn into a zombie and go on a rampage in New York and end up being around the Empire State Building before being gunned down. That would have been amazing and played more into the King Kong connection. Writer Stephen Romano has really has killed it with this series so far and did the film adaptation portion justice and then has added new layers to the characters and lore. The super talented Pat Carbajal did the interior art again and he captures the savage nature of this story and his gore art his great. Well we only have one more issue in this series to go and it’s a shame as I wish it had more then 8 issues! So let’s see how this war of the dead and living ends.

Zombie # 8 ***
Released in 2018   Cover Price $10.00   Eibon Press   # 8 of 8

On the island of Matul, the zombies have all been treated and are ready to march into the ocean and start a war with the living, and Biacando is leading the way and even smacks down Dr. Menard when he gets too cocky about his blood being part of what is giving them the power. Jamilya meanwhile is in the jungle watching the rift in the ranks between the two zombie leaders and plans an attack with the goal to save her zombie son and return his heart. Ann and Peter are in a helicopter that is on its way to Matul to start a war, and Peter notices that Ann has changed, as she is now so cold and filled with the want for revenge. Back in Washington, the President has killed many of his aids and now is forcing the last two to help in his plan to blow up New York. When the helicopters get to the island, they find that over a thousand zombies are on the beach, and Colonel Fulci orders for fire to be fired into the horde, and he does so in waves taking down many of the zombies! Biacando is not having it as he uses the two zombie kids in order to get into the minds of all the zombies and causes the helicopters to crash and William West and Colonel Fulci to lead their undead army against the remaining island horde! William West was in bad shape after fighting the gorilla in New York, but after biting and tasting the blood of an island zombie he regains his missing limbs and leads them to victory. Meanwhile Peter and Ann find themselves in the jungle and being stalked by Biacando who in turn is being stalked by Jamilya! Biacando and Dr. Menard are at it again when Jamilya armed with a bazooka fires on the pair and then stabs Menard in the eye killing him once and for all! She then gives her own life of immortality to her son and turns him normal. Ann and Peter show up just in time to witness this act of love and this triggers Ann to give her life in order to stop Biacando once and for all. In the end Peter watches out for the son of Jamilya as The President goes ahead and nukes New York!

Wow, what an ending for one of the best comic series based on a film. I mean it –  the creators as Eibon Press nailed this one out of the ballpark as they not only captured the mood and spirit of the Fulci film but they also added a new level to the over all story and allowed us to see what happened to some of the characters we became attached to in the film!

The biggest change comes from Ann as she goes from being a worried daughter to a survivor and ends by being a hero who brings the terror of Biacando to an end…and even gives her life to end his madness.

Peter loses so much in this series as he loses his job and story because New York is blown up, his brother has returned from the grave and is now a zombie commando and worst of all, he lost his true love Ann! Peter also faces death many times and cheats it and by the end he ends up having to watch over a child who’s mother he watched be eaten by a zombie kid including the one he is watching over now! Peter is a character that you start off thinking is a scumbag and by the end you find yourself cheering for him as well as Ann as what started out for them as a missing persons case turns into a fight to save the world from evil voodoo and zombies.

I love that Jamilya is able to save her son’s soul and life, plus she gets her revenge on the terrible Dr. Menard, but I do wish she had survived, as I would have loved to see her character continue on in more zombie comics or even other releases from Eibon Press.

Dr. Menard in this series goes from a drunken doctor trying to dodge his past and doing what he can to make up for his sins, to being an undead right hand man to Biacando who has a god complex because his blood is what gives the zombies the extra power. Biacando is pure evil and shows his voodoo power is very strong and wants to be the only one in power of the army of the dead, and want to give to credit to Menard and his science. I also like that Biacando can use his powers to take over the body and souls of the living to keep his powers strong and to give his evil spirit a vessel to live in.

William West and Colonel Fulci are zombies who lead other zombies in war and in the end becomes supped up on the blood of Dr. Menard and have a mission to stay a team and make the world safe. The President is…well, crazy, and to be in charge he kills all his men and then still blows up New York thinking he is ending the war for everyone, and more importantly himself.

Now let’s talk about the over all series as it’s fantastic on almost every front as the writing and art are top notch and I cannot stress enough that it does the film its based on justice. The characters are likable and have growth and the ones you are suppose to despise you do as the baddies are truly evil and have no redeeming quality. The blood and gore is brutal as so many eyes are popped like grapes, guts are ripped out, blood is splattered and violence happens to men, women, animals and children. So in other words, gorehounds will love this!

The comic is fast paced, and the 8 issues fly by as the story draws you in, and that to me is a sign of a good comic mini series.

Now I have to point out some of the issues I have with the series and they are pretty few and far between as the only thing I wished for is that some characters got a little more panel time as sometimes with some characters like The President it would have been really cool to see why he is such a self centered ass. And my major complaint is this…I wanted more than 8 issues as they were just not enough as this could be an ongoing series and I for one would be game to get every issue! I mean imagine Peter being placed in the situation of Zombi 3, like what would he doing during the events of that film…and what if he would be mixed in with the survivors of that film in future issues of Zombie…just saying, Eibon GIVE US MORE ZOMBIE! The cover and the Eibon Sleeve are great and eye-catching, and the interior art by Pat Carbajal is great as always. To sum it all up, if you love the films of Lucio Fulci, love indie horror comics, love great art and story telling then do yourself a big favor and check out this series, hell, check out all the titles from Eibon Press! Check out some artwork below from this series.

Eibon Press is really one of the best Indie comic companies going as they really do make some of the best horror comics today, and they clearly care about what they make and it shows in every issue. Not to mention, they pack each Eibon Sleeve with some amazing extra goodies like stickers, trading cards, bookmarks, posters and even CDs that have soundtracks for the comic and or the film its based on, giving you more bang for your buck! But with that said, let’s leave the island of Matul behind and head into the world of myth as our next update will be about the titan Atlas and a Dark Horse Comics mini series based on an adventure on modern Earth. So until next time, read a horror comic or three, watch a Fulci film or two and as always, support your local Horror Host. Wait, if Atlas is in a comic book who’s holding up the sky?

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Phantasm

You Write A Good Blog, Boy…But Now You Die! Those words are something I would like to think The Tall Man would scream at me if he was here at my apartment while I write this update.  The Phantasm film series is a horror franchise that breaks the mold of what one thinks of when comparing it to other horror films that came before.  The film was not made up of vampires, zombies, a slasher killer, ghosts or even animals running wild; oh no, this film was something more with a killer who was beyond the realms of normal horror bad guys as The Tall Man is so much more than your normal villain of cinema. When choosing Horror Comics for this year’s countdown to Halloween many titles were considered, but one I knew for sure had to be in this year’s roundup was this Xmachina comic based on Phantasm as the movie series as well as this comic deserved to be talked about here on Rotten Ink. This marks not only our second update in our countdown to Halloween but also the first in our “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates that join our returning update themes like “Horror Host Icon”, “Alien Invasion”, “Undead Files”, “NES Challenge” and “Marvel At The Movies” among others. What I am trying to showcase in these updates are horror movie themed comics that lasted for 1-4 issues (some cases could be more issues) and can be from any comic company from Marvel all the way to Blackthrone and can be an adaptation or its own story or a prequel based on the characters of the film it’s named after. This also can apply to promo comics that used to be given away at video rental stores and now come inside DVDs and Blu-Rays, plus still sometimes at the movie theaters! Many great horror movie themed comics have been released and sadly many have been forgotten, so I feel it’s my duty here on Rotten Ink to dig them up from the comic long box graveyard and give them life once more and share them with you, my friends and readers, who might have interest in tracking them down to read or collect. So with that, let’s move into the graveyard and dodge those evil metal flying spheres and get one step closer to the world of The Tall Man!

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The Phantasm movie series is the brain child of director and writer Don Coscarelli who grew up a fan of horror and wanted to make his own in the booming market. Inspired by the book “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury as well as from elements from films like “Suspiria” and “Invaders From Mars,” he made a film that became a hit at the box office as well sparked a cult-like following that is still going strong to this day. So before we dive too deep into this update, I want to talk about the films. The write ups will once more come from our friends at IMDB with some info and my brief thoughts and memories of the films…so let’s dodge the spheres and leap over some tombstones and get to talking about the films that are near and dear to many horror fans’ hearts.

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Phantasm (1979)

Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, is afraid to lose his brother. This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink them to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man.”

Phantasm was one of those films that when I first viewed it as a youngster, I was lost by the twist and turns of the plot, but nonetheless was so drawn in by the atmosphere. Looking back, I think I first saw this film on the USA Network or some other cable station as I can remember watching it with my brother late on a weekend night while living in Waynesville. As I grew older and into my teens when I started to collect more and more horror films on VHS, the Phantasm series was on my must-own list, and part one always remained a chilling and bizzarre classic in my eyes. The film was directed by Don Coscarelli, who also was the brain behind the idea of characters, and the cast was made up of such talents as Michael Baldwin as Mike, Bill Thornbury as Jody, Reggie Bannister as ice cream man Reggie and Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. At the US Box Office it brought in a total of $11.988,469.00 on a $300,000.00 budget. The year it was released, it was joined by such other Horror Films as “The Amityville Horror”, “The Driller Killer”, “Tourist Trap”, “Zombie 2”, “Screams Of A Winter Night”, “Cannibal Holocaust” and “The Dark” to name a few. This first one is a true cult classic in my book and is one that you should watch this Halloween season if you have not seen it, and hell even if you have seen it, watch it again!

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Phantasm II (1988)

Mike is released from psychiatry, when he agrees with the doctors that the terrible happenings in his past were just in his imagination. But once he’s free, he contacts Redge and they team up to hunt down and eliminate the “Tall Man”, who plunders the graveyards and abducts the sleeping with help of his terrible gnomes. A beautiful strange girl starts to appear in Mike’s dreams. He assumes she’s in danger and needs their help – will they find her before the Tall Man can do her any harm?”

I can remember when Phantasm II was coming out to theaters as Fangoria Magazine was pushing it, and the TV spots playing on the local stations always captured my attention. My first time seeing the film was when it hit home video and my cousins Dino and Norman rented it and had me and my brother over to watch it. I can remember when the sphere killed one of the Tall Man’s funeral workers, Norman and I cheered and were in wonder as the effects looked fantastic.  This sequel was also directed by Don Coscarelli with actors James LeGros as Mike, Reggie Bannister as Reggie, Paula Irvine as Liz and Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. The film did okay for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in $7,282,851.00 on a $3 million dollar budget. The film came in at 103 for the year and beat such cult films as Waxwork, Hot To Trot, Mac And Me, The Unholy, Braddock: Missing In Action III, Elvira Mistress Of The Dark, Monkey Shines, Night Of The Demons, Pumpkinhead, Maniac Cop, Hero And The Terror and Critters 2: The Main Course to name a few. The sequel packs a wicked punch and adds to the mystery of The Tall Man and his wicked dead spreading ways, a great watch for your Halloween season for sure.

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Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead (1994)

The Tall Man, that imposing menace from Morningside Mortuary, is back and once again haunting the thoughts of the now-adult Mike and his friend, ex-Ice Cream vendor Reggie. The two continue their hunt for the mysterious figure and in his path of destruction encounter a variety of dangerous situations, friends and enemies. They also must contend with the resurrected dead plus a growing number of the infamous and deadly silver spheres which aid the Tall Man as he sets his sights on indoctrinating Mike and finishing the fight begun so many years ago”

Phantasm III was the first of the series not to make it to theaters, and the rumor going around about why it went direct to video was because Universal and Don Coscarelli were at war with each other and they did this as a way to flex their muscle, but by doing this they created one of the top selling direct to video films of all time. I first saw the film when my brother Bryan and I rented it from K&L Video, and both of us liked it but were also confused by some of it.  But that’s the real charm of the Phantasm films, they reveal answers but also make it so there are more questions that need answers from film to film. This one also adds female characters named Rocky and Tanesha who are also on a quest to take down the sinister Tall Man…part three in this series is great and was one that was worth renting and now owning on DVD.

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Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)

Taking off immediately where the last one ended, in this episode Mike travels across dimensions and time fleeing from the Tall Man, at the same time he tries to find the origins of his enemy, and what really happened the night that his brother died. Meanwhile, Reggie (accompanied by a beauty he picked up on the road) battles the spheres and the undead in a quest to find Mike before the Tall Man can complete his transformation.”

The fourth film in the series was another one that my brother Bryan and I rented from Blockbuster Video.  While good, I did find it to be the weakest in the series, but even with that said, it’s still an amazing and strange film. I don’t have much to say about this film besides I bought it on VHS and later DVD. It was great seeing The Tall Man back in 1998, and it was released by MGM this time around and not Universal. Also a fun fact is that the film was originally written under the title “Phantasm 1999 A.D.” and would have been set in a post-apocalyptic world and would have co-starred Bruce Campbell, but that script could not find funding so it disappeared into developmental hell. This film also had the lowest budget out of all the sequels that were made up to that point. Over all it’s a solid sequel that adds to the legend and mysteries that is The Tall Man.

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Phantasm V: Ravager (2016)

The final installment of the long-running Phantasm series.”

Not much is known about this fifth film in Phantasm series besides it was filmed in secret from 2012-2013.  Oddly enough the film has been scheduled for release this year and has yet to see the light of the movie theater or even the home viewing market, but just recently the release date of October 7th, 2016 was announced. This fifth film is also supposed to be the end of the series and is also the only film not to be directed by Don Coscarelli as David Hartman steps into the director’s chair. I am hoping that the Neon Movies in Dayton will get this film to screen when released, but I won’t hold my breath. I am very much looking forward to this film as the world needs another nightmare of celluloid featuring The Tall Man. So you friends and readers, are you looking forward to this fifth and final Phantasm film?

Tall Man in The Crypt

I am sure some of your readers would like to know who is Tall Man and what is he about. In the 19th century a mortician named Jebediah Morningside had become obsessed with finding out the connections between the worlds of the dead and the living.  He researched and built a machine that would allow him to travel through time and space via a portal that when stepping into it, lead him to an unknown destination and when returning he was no longer Jenediah; he was different…he was now The Tall Man. With these changes he became immortal, super strong, can shape shift, is telekinetic and able to control not only people but also objects with his mind.  When having a body part cut off, the severed limb not only grows back but the amputated limb can transform into insect-like creatures.  His helpers are many as he not only has humans to help in his goal to make the world a graveyard, but also small dwarves, gas mask wearing guards and spheres to name a few. His only known major weakness is cold as it’s believed that the dimension he came from is very hot and this makes is body not able to deal with freezing temperatures. Another fact is that with the change his blood is no longer red but yellow, and while he can be hurt, he has never been killed as shown for 4 films thus far (could his death be in the fifth film?). What makes The Tall Man a fascinating character is the fact that his motives are unknown for the most part besides he wants the land of the living to be the land of the dead. While he can talk, he is a bad guy of few words and mostly uses his face and eyebrow movement to show his feelings. The Tall Man is said to be 6 feet 4 inches tall, have grey hair and is always wearing a black suit. Actor Angus Scrimm has played The Tall Man for five films and his portrayal will forever lock The Tall Man as a true iconic character in the world of horror films. And one has to wonder if the Creepypasta Slenderman is slightly based on The Tall Man…think about it.

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Let’s talks a little about actor Angus Scrimm, shall we? Born on August 19, 1926 in Kansas City, Kansas, Scrimm started his media journey when he wrote and edited for such magazines as TV Guide and Los Angeles Herald Examiner and would also write the liner notes for LPs and CDs for bands like The Beatles and Frank Sinatra and even won a Grammy for his work on liner notes. Hits first acting role was in 1973 in the film “Sweet Kill” with another role that year being in “Sceam Bloody Murder” and after another small role in 1976 for a film called “Jim The World’s Greatest.”  His career changing role would come three years later in 1979 when he landed the role of The Tall Man in the film Phantasm.  This launched his career in acting in horror and cult films, landing roles in “Wiches’ Brew”, “Subspecies”, “Wishmaster” and “John Dies At The End,” to name a few. Angus would travel around the world acting and appearing at conventions and was always a man who made time for his fans. But sadly on January 9th 2016 at the age of 89, Angus Scrimm passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends.  This marked another major blow for fans of horror as the year before we lost Wes Craven and Christopher Lee. While gone, his work will live one, and I just wanted to take a moment and honor the man who truly made The Tall Man come alive and scare all those who witnessed his cinema and home video madness. This update is for you, Mr. Scrimm.

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The Tall Man has lots of creepy helpers that are trying to usher in a world of death.  Let’s take a few moments to take a look at them. The most popular of his helpers are the Spheres, also known as Sentinels.  They are flying weapons of death that are packing drills, knives, lasers and saws inside of them and are pure killing machines. The Dwarves, also called Lurkers, are pint size terrors who are crushed down dead bodies that have their brains removed and act as his main forces in his quest. The Hearse is another of his allies, a roaming self controlled four wheeled death machine, and lastly we have the Gravers, who are gas mask wearing slaves who act as guards. All these minions help make The Tall Man a true menace that the world fears and has to combat in order to save their towns from becoming wastelands of death.

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Phantasm has had its share of merchandise and only VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray and other home media releases. Over the years Phantasm and its character The Tall Man have appeared on t-shirts, posters, a comic book, action figures, posters, books, wall clock, hats and many more official and unoffical products. Over the years my most favorite Phantasm item I own is my NECA action figure that not only showcases The Tall Man but also a Lurker.  I also really like my Xmachina Comic as well as an item I will be talking about very shortly. So if you’re a fan of Phantasm and are also a collector of cool things, you can find some very kick butt stuff that showcases characters and the logos for this cult classic horror film.

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In 2009, a Phantasm homebrew video game was made for the Atari 2600 by Scott Dayton.  During its limited release, it was placed on a cart, and I was lucky enough to get a copy of it to play. It’s an adventure game and has you looking around doors in the mausoleum trying to find your shotgun and fighting off the dwarves and dodging The Tall Man who says/screams “Boy” at you. The best part of the game is the midi version of the film’s theme…amazing! While not ground breaking, the game is very much a fun play and makes you flashback to the days when a joystick and one button were all you needed to play a game. While out of print and pretty hard to find, from time to time it will show up on Ebay, and for a high price, you too can get yourself a copy of the horror video game.

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The score music for the 1979 classic Phantasm was done by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave and could be some of the most memorable horror film music to come out of the 70’s next to Goblin’s Dawn Of The Dead work. The opening theme has a creepy organ sound that blends the sound of the 70’s and yet also mixes in the eerie feel of the 60’s horror score music. The soundtrack has been released on vinyl and CD, and both are pretty much out of print and fetch a very high price in the used market. I was lucky to find a special edition CD release for Phantasm that puts the scores for the first and second film on one CD-R and play the main title during the Halloween show of Alpha Rythms on WYSO. If you’re a music score fan and have extra cash, you should check out this soundtrack as it’s worth buying and listening to.

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Back in 2011 as part of the podcast Gutter Trash’s Halloween special, I was asked to be a guest to review Phantams alongside hosts Jason Young and Eric Shonborn, and wow was it a fun time! We ate take out Chinese food and watched the film over at Eric’s house and after the film recorded the podcast in the Gutter Trash studio….and I was the only one trying to defend it! It was a great time, and if you want to take a trip to the past and listen to some movie and comic geeks chat about Phantasm and other topics, make sure to give it a listen here.

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So we are now in the heart of this Horror Comic Mortuary where good scary comics go to die, and it’s my job to bring them back to life and share them with you my readers – I should warn you that I have had to dodge so many Lurkers who have tried to stop me! I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this issue in stock. I also want to also tell you that this Phantasm comic series was planned to be a four issue mini series, but after Xmachina closed up the comic shop, only one issue was released. But I would like to make a prediction that may could come true; Eibon Press, the new amazing Horror Comic Company who is releasing the missing issues from the Xmachina Gates Of Hell comic series, could take the chance and release the remaining issues..again, just a guess that I could be WAY OFF on. As I am writing this, I can hear a Lurker mumbling this, “Remind them that you grade on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” And that Lurker said it best..let’s move onto the Phantasm comic that is the perfect way to countdown to Halloween with as well as kick off my new themed updates “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” so dodge the spheres and try to outrun The Tall Man and see what this comic has to offer as this is my first time reading it.

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Phantasm # 1 ***
Released in 2002    Cover Price $4.95    Xmachina Comics    # 1 of 4

Mike is stuck in a world of his memories of his past run-ins with The Tall Man and his strange world and followers. He remembers back to when he was convinced it was all a dream and that his brother Jody died in a car crash and was not taken away by The Tall Man.  He also remembers when The Tall Man took him into his world and he witnessed the bizarre and weird place in between dimensions that he walked between.  He remembers going along with his best friend Reggie and meeting a female survivor named Rocky and how they had to fight to stay alive, and he remembers how The Tall Man removes his brain to show him not all is what it seems…and then he wakes up attached to machines, greeted by a hippie looking doctor named John Andrew Quezada who is dream specialist.  The year is 2047, and he has been studding Mike who he claims has been in a coma since 1979, a year after his brother Jody and friend Reggie were both killed in a car wreck.  He also claims that the world went crazy some years back and that many people went into dream comas and that The Tall Man is something that lives in dreams and only one other person has ever lived this long in a coma. Mike is still young as a serum was used to keep him youthful, and now Quezada wants him to help find a cure for the dream coma that is sweeping the world. The woman who survived is Rocky, and Dr. Quezada puts them both through dream tests that pits them against The Tall Man and his army of minions, but also what ever weapon they dream up to fight him with can be made as the clinic has a weapon manufacturing room! In one of his dream tests Mike has his own mind taking the appearance of Reggie telling him that this is all a trick of The Tall Man to get him and Rocky out of the way so he can spread death around the world and that they must fight back and end The Tall Man’s path of destruction. When he awakens, he questions Quezada who in turns answers questions but soon turns into The Tall Man and along with spheres and his minions attack Mike and Rocky, only for them to run away and smack dab into a twisted grotesque version of The Tall Man…and our story ends.

Just like the movie series this is based on this comic took so many twist and turns and was so odd that it fit perfectly into the world of Phantasm! The plot mixes the elements from the four films and tries to twist Mike’s memories into nightmares and say that he has been in a coma for decades – and that The Tall Man is nothing more than a nightmare man who has infected the sleep world of many people on earth causing ones who dream of him to go into comas…this of course is all a trap as Mike and Rocky, a returning character from the film Phantasm III, soon find out that this clinic to help them is just another sick game being played by their most hated enemy The Tall Man. The things that work the most about this issue are that while you are reading it and being drawn deeper and deeper into the possibility that these nightmares of Mike are what’s causing these major and evil problems, you know in the back of your mind that it has to be the work of The Tall Man as his sinister mind games are on par with the Marvel Comic villain The Red Skull as they both get joy in watching their targets squirm as their twisted plans unfold. Mike is a great character as by the point we join him in this comic issue, he has already been through so much and he seems to be fed up with all the strange and sinister antics he has had to deal with in his young life.  Plus he knows that he is the key that can stop this approaching end of the world, and he is ready to take up the fight! Rocky is also a fighter, and she tries her best to have no fear even when the odds are stacked against her.  The best way to describe her to modern horror comic fans is that she is much like Michonne from The Walking Dead. While we see Reggie and Jody in flashbacks mostly, they are missed in the story, but I have a feeling that later on they would have played a major part in the story. Doctor John Andrew Quezada is one of those characters that from the moment you see him you’re not sure if he can be trusted and after getting to know him a little better you lighten up only to again quickly question his motives…is he good or bad or a pawn of The Tall Man…I can’t say for sure, but by the end of this issue, he sure does seem evil! The Tall Man always seems to be around in this issue whether its in flashback, on TV screens or in person, and he just wants to screw things up and mess with the minds of those who can stop his rampage. Tall Man is always also surrounded by his minions and his spheres making him a major threat. The cover has a dark mood look and for some reason The Tall Man looks like he is part Terminator with his glowing red eye.  The interior art is done by Michael Broom and is creepy and fitting for this style of story based on these characters. The story is well crafted and put together by Stephen Romano, who you could truly tell was a fan of the series.  I wish that Xmachina Comics stayed around longer so that this series could have been finished up and we horror comic readers could have seen how the story played out. Here is to hoping that sometime in the future companies like Eibon Press or Rough House Publishing will pick up the series and put out the remaining three issues in the planned miniseries. Over all, this is a great read and something that fans of the film series should track down as well as horror comic readers. Below is artwork from the comic that shows the badass nature of what this comic has in store, so enjoy!

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So I hope you’re not too scared as we have just started with our countdown to Halloween 2016, and I think taking a look at Jaws 2 and Phantasm was the right way to kick off this season. Phantasm is one of those cult classic films that has a loyal fanbase that just cannot be beat, and I for one will always stand by the fact that I am a fan, or as they say Phan, of this film! Our next update is a comic based on another film that I am a super fan of, the 1932 classic film Dracula.  We will be taking a look at the Dark Horse Comic adaptation of that Universal Monster Classic as well as Lugosi’s Dracula and the impact it has had on society.  So make sure to join me back here for that as you will not want to miss it.  Until next time, avoid The Tall Man, watch a horror movie or two, read a horror comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host. Also watch out for flying spheres as they can be a real pain in the neck!

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