The Ghost Who Walks Among Us And Can Never Die…The Phantom

In the world of comic books, crime doesn’t pay thanks to the Superheroes who protect the innocent and punish the guilty. I mean Gothom City has Batman, The City has Dick Tracy and New York has many like Spider-Man, Daredevil and Fantastic Four, to name a few. But while the big cities have their protectors, so does the jungles of Bangalla in Africa who has the one and only The Phantom! What is really cool about The Phantom is that he is much like Batman and Dick Tracy as he has no superhuman powers and is just a man who is a vigilante and dedicates his life to defending the weak and beating evil down. If you think about it as well, The Phantom, who was created in 1936, is a character who bridged the comic strip hero and the comic book superhero and is the first hero to really walk that line. So let’s kick 2017 off right and spend some time in Bangalla and see what The Phantom is all about and how DC brought him back to comic books in 1988.

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First, we must take a look at the life of the creator of The Phantom, the one and only Leon Harrison Gross aka Lee Falk, who was born on April 28, 1911 in St. Louis Missouri and had a decent childhood growing up Jewish.  Things would take a slight turn for the bad when his father passed away when Lee was still young, but his mother remarried sometime later and this gave Lee a stepfather he loved and respected and looked up to. The older he got, he began making comic strips and made up a fake bio story for himself as he claimed to be a world traveler who experienced so much out in the world which lead him to create the characters Mandrake The Magician and later The Phantom who were both picked up by King Feature Syndicate. He created The Phantom as he grew up loving the stories of Tarzan and The Jungle Book and decided to also add in pirates and thugs from around the world as it was a topic that also interested him.  Originally he wanted to call the character The Grey Ghost and wanted his costume and all to be grey but things changed when he liked the name The Phantom better and the news printer screwed up and made the costume purple, and the color stuck with readers. Weirdly enough, Falk did not have faith in his characters and thought they would only last a few weeks and was shocked that they lasted his whole lifetime, During World War II Falk worked for KMOX radio and was the chief of propaganda.  Also, the older he got the more world traveling he did in order to not have to lie about his background stories. Lee Falk was married three times and had three children with two daughters and one son. Lee Folk also loved the theater and over the years wrote 12 plays, directed 100 of them and produced over 300 others! Not to mention over his lifetime he even ran five theaters! His plays would have such Hollywood actors as Basil Rathbone, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Chico Marx and Charlton Heston acting in them! As you can see Lee Falk was a very creative man who did lots of very cool things. Lee Falk passed away from heart failure on March 13, 1999 at the age of 87 and up to his death he was still working on his comic strips…a true man who loved his characters and creations. It’s amazing to think about just how many comic strip creators worked on their strips all the way up until their deaths showing that unlike the comic book world, the creators loved their creations and got joy of bringing them to life for the readers. This update is dedicated to you, Lee Falk, a true icon of comic strip artists and a man who lived for what he loved to do.

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The Phantom is a hero who has no super powers and uses his wits, fists and guns to right the wrongs and protect his friends and tribes around his home in Africa. His costume is the following: a black eye mask, a skull ring and a purple costume that was based on an old African idol.  The look is used to scare criminals and pirates, who are his main targets. The Phantom is a costume and legacy that is passed down from generation to generation within the Walker family who do this in order to give the appearance that The Phantom is not human and immortal to strike even more fear into the hearts of those who do evil. The Phantom is a trained fighter with his fists, and I would guess that he has the punch of a heavy weight boxer! He is also skilled with a gun and while not a full dead shot, he hits his target when it’s needed. The Phantom is very smart and has the same kind of mind for solving crimes as Batman, The Shadow and Dick Tracy as he is also quick to get out of a bad situation. The Phantom’s main weapon is fear as legends spread of him being a ghost and not able to be killed, using superstition of the unknown to his advantage of just passing on the title to the next in the family bloodline. The 21st Phantom also has a pet wolf named Devil who helps him uphold justice and has his white horse Hero to get him places faster. Say what you will, The Phantom is a kick butt hero who might not be super but sure knows how to get the job done!

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On June 7, 1996, thanks to Paramount Pictures, a film based on The Phantom was released to theaters and was directed by Simon Wincer and had Billy Zane as The Phantom himself. Also in the cast were Catherine Zeta-Jones, Treat Williams and Kristy Swanson with the score being done by David Newman. Before it was made The Phantom had many different directors attached to it including big names like Sergio Leone, Joe Dante and Joel Schumacher who all left the project at one point or another for reasons of their own. Paramount picked the relativity unknown Simon Wincer, who had directed a few films before it like Quigley Down Under, Free Willy, Lightning Jack and Operation Dumbo Drop to name a few and they gave him a $45 million budget.  He is the one who hired Zane to play the title role as they both were fans of the character since childhood. The film’s production went smooth, and the hype was high for the film’s release as Paramount was wishing for the same kind of success as Warner Brothers had with Batman in 1989 and Touchstone had with Dick Tracy in 1990…but the box office and critics were not nice to this film as it only brought in $17,323,326.00 in the US and didn’t even get released in theaters overseas! The film came in at #93 of the year and beat out such films as The Frighteners, Trainspotting, Thinner and Mulholland Falls to name a few. While the film bombed at the theater, it developed a cult following when it was released on VHS and DVD, making the film turn in a small profit for Paramount. While I am a fan of The Phantom character, I skipped this film at the theater and waited for home video.  I found it to be a fun dumb popcorn movie that, while it didn’t 100% capture the magic of the comic strip, it at least delivered some fun action and adventure. And I must say that the outfit for The Phantom that actor Billy Zane wears was pretty well done and looked like a modern version of the classic suit and brought out elements to make it stand out on the big screen.

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But the 1996 film was not the first time The Phantom made the jump from comic strip to media on the big and small screen as the first was the 1943 Columbia Pictures serial simple called “The Phantom” that had a total of 15 chapters and had Tom Tyler as The Phantom. A serial sequel for The Phantom was in the works in 1955 with actor John Hart in the role of The Phantom and as production was chugging along they soon found that they no longer owned the rights to use The Phantom and quickly changed it over to calling it “The Adventures Of Captain Africa.” This was followed by the cartoon “Defenders Of The Earth” that aired on TV in 1986 and had Peter Mark Richman voicing the character for a total of 65 episodes, only lasting one season. In 1994, a cartoon called “Phantom 2040” was released as a series that lasted for 35 episodes and a total of 2 seasons with Family Ties actor Scott Valentine lending his pipes to make the character speak. And in 2009 they made a TV mini series based on the character and called it “The Phantom” that had two feature length movies to tell this new version of the character.  This time around actor Ryan Carnes landed the role of the character. So as you can see, Hollywood has had many plans for this character to be the next comic character to be on every kid’s t-shirt and have toys on every chain store shelf…while they tried, it just was not meant to be as it was clear the youth was just not biting at The Phantom to replace their Batman toys and comics. I can proudly say that as a youngster I did my part, as I owned The Phantom action figure from the Defenders Of The Earth toy line.

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Besides the movies and cartoons getting released on VHS and DVD, some other really cool stuff based on The Phantom has been released over the years from action figures, t-shirts, posters, statues, comic books, novels, card game, video game, Halloween costumes, replica skull rings, bobble heads, lunch box and so much more! The Phantom has had his fair share of collectibles for his fans to collect and enjoy, not to mention, besides DC, other comic book companies like Pacific Comics Club, Gold Key, Whitman, King, Pioneer, Dynomite, Marvel and Moonstone among others have printed adventures of this character. Besides some of the comics and the Defenders action figure, one thing I had in my teens was a skull ring replica that a fellow classmate gave me, and I can remember wearing it around school and feeling super cool…yeah, I know –  I was young and didn’t know any better. I wonder if that ring is still someplace in my parent’s basement, also know as Independent B Movie Studios. So in closing, if you enjoy The Phantom, the world is filled with collectibles for you!

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Speaking of Independent B Movie, the old shot on video company that my friends and I use to make films together under that brought you such shot on video classics as The Wolf Hunter, Farmer Joe and Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa to name a small few.  For a small time we toyed with the idea of doing fan films based on some of our favorite movies and characters with lots of things being written and talked about at our annual company meetings. Characters like Superman, Lone Ranger, Leatherface, Spider-Man and Neo from The Matrix all had fan scripts written or talked about, and one of the characters I was developing a fan film for was The Phantom! The idea for my film would have had Matt Hoffman or Jason Gilmore playing The Phantom who was sent on a mission to stop Dr. Frankenstein from creating a monster for the Nazi’s who needed this super solider to turn the tide of the war.  The setting was Frankenstein’s Castle in Kettering and the woods around it would have acted as the jungle with all the typical friends taking on roles like Josh Weinberg who I wanted to play Dr. Frankenstein.  Garrison Kane would have played The Monster and Dave Wean, Patrick Neeley, Mike Ritchie and Jason Young would have made up the supporting cast. If memory serves me right, I think the title of it would have been called “The Phantom vs. Frankenstein,” real original right? The costume was going to be ordered offline and The Frankenstein’s Monster mask was something we would have gotten from Foy’s in Fairborn. But the film idea went nowhere and a script was never written as only scraps of paper with notes was all I had taken down for my idea for this flick, and sadly that are long gone by now. I could have only imagined if we were to have filmed this just how cheesy and terrible the action fights would have been, but I am sure much like all the films we made, it would have had a small cult following for being so bad it’s good. Below is a mock-up poster for this movie done by my friend Jason Young who I’m sure would have been cast in this could-have-been fan made film.  Check it out!

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Speaking of Jason Young – before we get into the reviews of DC Comics first run of The Phantom, I want to share something very cool with you: my good friend Jason has started a comic review blog called “The Bewildering” for independent comics issue # 1’s he finds in .25 and $1.00 boxes at stores as well as conventions! And with his reviews, he breaks down the issues’ plots really well and will update about once a month.  It’s worth checking out if you enjoy your comics on the moldy side of the comic racks. Jason Young is a super talented dude as he is the owner of “Buyer Beware Comics” that puts out his bio comic called “Veggie Dog Saturn” among other titles. He is the co-owner of “Sparkle Comics” and its horror comic branch “Blood Scream Comics” and is working on a very cool comic called “Defenders Of The Planets” based on knock off He-Man toys from the 80’s! He also is co-host on the comic podcast called “Gutter Trash” with artist Eric Shonborn, not to mention he works at Mavericks Cards And Comics, a local shop that helps hook me up with comics for this blog! So in other words you are for sure in for a high quality good read with his blog, and I recommend that you check it out and show him some love.

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So now that we have taken a look at The Phantom from comic strip to an old never made fan made film that would have been directed by me, lets get to the main attraction here at Rotten Ink and that’s the comic book reviews! When choosing The Phantom as this update I had to think long and hard about what comic company I wanted to choose as many have tackled releases for The Phantom.  Most of the time I would just gone with Marvel Comics but decided to go with DC as the covers caught my attention more and looked like it could be a fun mini series.  Plus I feel like sometimes poor DC gets the short end of the stick here as I cover Marvel way more often. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock to make this update possible and want to also say thank you again to the late great Lee Falk for creating this iconic character for all us comic readers to enjoy! And as always, I need to remind you that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star scale rating and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, let’s enter the Skull Cave and see what kind of adventure we can share with The Phantom!

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The Phantom # 1  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 1 of 4

A young boy named Kit Walker is writing in the journal in the Skull Cave as he is the next in line to be The Phantom, the ghost who cannot die.  He is talking about his fears and reads back to the first Phantom who watched as his father was killed by pirates and he himself washed ashore in Bangalla, Africa near death.  He was taken in by its tribe and found that if the world was going to get justice, it was by him becoming justice itself and becoming the first Phantom who wanted to protect his new home and get revenge on the pirates! Now Kit Walker is an adult and the 21st Phantom who along with his step-nephew Rex, wolf Devil and white horse Hero are called upon by the tribes people as some drug smugglers have kidnapped two of the patrol men and are waiting for the big drug transaction. As The Phantom rushes off to save his friends the patrol men, one who even is under his protection for saving his life some time back, Rex starts to read the history of The Phantom journal and learns that the 13th Phantom was tricked onto a pirate ship by a evil men named Chessmen and captured! In modern times, The Phantom arrives too late as one of the patrolmen is shot dead, and as he frees the other, he soon finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun of a hired gun of one of the original Chessmen who has always been told to kill The Phantom and his supporters!

Three Phantoms’ tales are woven together into this issue’s plot as we take a look at what sparked the 1st Phantom to take on the mantel of being the ghost of justice as well as follow the 13th on a set up mission and are in present day with the 21st who is battling relatives of enemies from the past! And while this might sound confusing, it’s really not and by all accounts is really well done and gives each of The Phantoms their own characters and own traits letting you get the feel that this is truly a mantel that is handed down from father to son over the decades. All three of the Phantoms are very strong-willed people who understand that evil in the world will prey and destroy the weak if someone does not watch out for them.  Each puts his life on the line to rescue the innocent and stomp out the evil that is running loose. Rex is a young man who while is not blood to current The Phantom, he is adopted into the legacy and feels very much connected to it all and wants to learn the history and family secrets to prepare for the day he is called upon to wear the purple costume of good. The pirates and captain are the villains of the story thus far and when they are not stealing or selling drugs, they are killing and have zero remorse for ending lives too soon.  One of them shoots a man in the head without a care all because he had the mark of The Phantom on him! And what’s really shocking is they show the aftermath of the gunshot with a body on the deck in a pool of blood; that’s pretty crazy for a comic based on a comic strip character. The only thing that kind of made this comic a hard read was that some of the lettering for the journal was written in cursive and at times it was hard to read as it felt piled up and a little sloppy. The cover is well done and has The Phantom doing what he does best and that’s beating up pirates! The art is great and is done by Joe Orlando who I think did a fantastic job of mixing the normal 80’s DC Comics style with a touch of Sunday Comics appeal. Over all I am very impressed with this first issue and really kick myself for waiting until 2017 to read this comic as younger me would have really enjoyed this back in 1988!

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The Phantom # 2  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 2 of 4

Rex is reading the history of The Phantom in the Skull Cave as The Phantom kicks into high gear and saves the remaining officer and takes down the captain and his men, but all he could get from the captain as who is his boss is the name Chessman because his own shipmate shoots and kills him before turning the gun on himself. The officer calls the colonel on the ship’s radio for back up and help as The Phantom slips into the jungle with anger and revenge on his mind as the name Chessman is attached to those who did his father wrong many moons back. After a few hours The Phantom contacts the colonel and finds that a man named Charles Chessman from New York is the prime suspect of being the head of the drug smugglers, so alongside Devil, The Phantom as Kit Walker boards a plane for New York to get his answers and justice…but soon finds that his American girlfriend Diana’s family are long time friends with Chessman! The Phantom heads to the office of Charles Chessman only to find himself under arrest! All the while young Rex is reading about the 13th Phantom and his struggle to break free from the pirates who sold him into slavery.

The Phantom once more shows why he is the man who cannot die when he beats up a boat full of pirates and heads to America to settle a score with a person connected with the torture of his father. While he is dealing with his want for revenge, his adopted nephew is learning the history of The Phantom. This issue feels like a great classic hero tale and adds in just enough violence, drama and modern settings to give it an appeal to readers who enjoy Batman, Superman and classic stuff like Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon. The Phantom is as heroic as he can be in this issue and saves not only the life of an officer but also a whole plane full of passengers and crew when a man tries to take it over and with one quick punch that threat comes to an end. Rex, like any young man, is wanting to learn all he can and prove that he could be very worthy of The Phantom legacy someday. The pirates and the captain are such scum that they even turn on each other when the odds are out of their favor.  The Captain has no spine and is about to squeal like a pig on who hired them before his own right hand man put a bullet to good use. Diana Palmer is a woman who clearly cares about her boyfriend The Phantom and understands his odd way of life, but her mother doesn’t like the relationship and thinks The Phantom is too creepy. Something that is working really well for this comic mini series is that like his father The Phantom is trying to get the revenge that his father was unable to dish out all those years back and this adds to not only the drama but also the action. The cover is pretty slick and holds a classic look and the interior art is done by Joe Orlando again and is fantastic.  Again, the only complaint I have is that some of the cursive lettering is hard to read in spots but that’s very minor and didn’t take away any of the enjoyment of the issue. So with issue two being as good as issue one, I cannot wait to see what issue three has in store for us the readers, and I wish I would have bought this series when I was a kid as I would have enjoyed it a lot.

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The Phantom # 3  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 3 of 4

The Phantom and Devil outsmart and out-maneuver the officers and as they go on a wild goose chase to track him down he slips back into the office of Chessman and beats him up and tells him he has a short time to turn himself over to the police and tell them the truth about his drug selling and stolen good ways or that he himself will be the judge, jury and executioner. After taking his leave, Diana comes to see Chessman and is upset over the fact that he beat up one of her friends who she thinks is truly a nice guy and decides to go on a dinner date with Chessman and has a terrible argument with The Phantom leaving the couple at odds and even possibly broken up. The Phantom goes out the night of the date and gets information on all of Chessman’s thugs.  Meanwhile, during dinner Chessman hires a hitman named Stryker to hunt down and kill The Phantom who is in turn now hunting down Chessman’s right hand man! All the while, we get flashbacks to the 13th Phantom who escapes his chains and goes on a hunt and kills the first of The Chessman brothers to send a message to the others that no one crosses justice and The Phantom.

This third issue ushers in the idea that The Phantom is now onto the man who has not only killed his friend and is pushing drugs but also is a relative of the evil men who pushed his father, the 13th Phantom near death’s door. And while trying to put a stop to the evil of this man he might lose his girlfriend as well as his life as now the hunter might just very well become the hunted. The Phantom is a man alone in New York as his own lady thinks he is on the wrong track, and this leaves him trying to fight this fight without her knowledge of the target, but at least he has Devil by his side and is kind enough to give Chessman a choice of turning himself in or become a body in the morgue. Diana is making a big mistake by thinking that her longtime family friend is a nice guy and not scum.  This leaves her also at the madman’s mercy as she is now at his house for dinner and he is desperate to rid the world of The Phantom.  I would not put it past him to use her as a human meat shield when the action goes down. Chessman is just so slimy and plays the role of a nice guy who really has a black selfish heart, and I can’t wait for him to get served some cold justice. Stryker is a mystery and looks like your typical mafia style hitman, and he could be a challenge for The Phantom once they meet! The story of the 13th Phantom from the past and the 21st Phantom’s paths are one in the same dealing with the same evil and crappy people The Chessman family is good story telling and writer Peter David is doing some amazing things to make The Phantom cool for comic readers of 1988 and beyond. The cover once more holds a classic look and captures the adventure style of the character and his legacy as again the art by Joe Orlando is top notch and amazing stuff. Once more this issue is as good as the other two so far and leaves the reader wanting more and wanting to see how the story ends in the next issue. So like The Phantom, let’s lurk into the shadows of your favorite place to read comics and see what happens next.

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The Phantom # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 4 of 4

At dinner Diana overhears Chessman telling Stryker about his right hand man being busted by the cops thanks to The Phantom and that this spoiled a major drug deal for him.  Before she can get away, Chessman and Stryker take Diana hostage and want to use her as bait when they find out she knows him! The Phantom spends the next nights breaking up Chessman’s illegal operations but finally finds a message that Diana is in trouble and heads to Chessman’s house and into a trap. The Phantom sets Diana free but she is soon recaptured by Chessman who throws her into his car and hits the streets to get to his private plane.  While The Phantom and Devil make short work of Stryker, who, armed with a sniper rifle, hardly put up hardly before being knocked out. The Phantom watches as his enemy takes his true love away and borrows a police horse and tracks them down to bridge where traffic has come to a standstill and with a gun to her head Diana is forced to watch as Chessman and The Phantom have a showdown that leaves them both falling off the bridge. Chessman is in bad shape and rushed to the hospital but is suspected to live and will face charges for his drug empire.  The Phantom is thought to be dead until he shows up with Devil to Diana’s house and they patch things up and all ends well. We also see that the 13th Phantom also had an epic fight with the pirate Chessman brother that as well left them both falling off a mountain that they both died from, but this once more proved that the legacy of The Phantom would live forever.

This four issue mini series took us on an adventure that had us in the past and modern times as well as in the jungles of Africa and the slums of New York and pitted good vs. evil and justice against law breaker. The Phantom in this issue not only brings down many drug and gambling rings but also takes down a hitman as well as defeats a rich business man who is the ring leader of smugglers and has lived his life as a lie and gotten the support of many with his phony good guy persona. And most importantly, he also wins his girl’s heart back as well as keeps the legacy of The Phantom going and intact. The best part about The Phantom is that while he is super talented in hand to hand combat, he also uses his mind to really bring down those who are doing bad and wicked things. Devil is a loyal wolf and is a big help when it comes to fighting crime and is the best ally as he is threat with his razor sharp teeth! Rex learns lots about The Phantom legacy by going into the records, a place he is not meant to be, but a place it is known he would enter as all future Phantoms have interest in the past adventures. Diana Palmer is a woman who stands by her man…well that is until he beats up and points the figure at a rich family friend and then you turn on him and try and send him home until everything he said turns out to be true and he saves your life and then you fall back in love with him. Diana should have had faith in her superhero boyfriend as she clearly has a brain in her head. Stryker is all talk as he acts as if it would be easy to kill off The Phantom and when he gets his chance, he crumbles faster than a house of cards in a hurricane! The 13th Phantom in this series is a hero who is beaten, sold and near death but finds his inner power to get his revenge and to prove that his family legacy is not to be taken lightly. Charles Chessman is a man who has no morals and only cares about making money and getting his own fat out of the fire and would kill an innocent woman to get away, even after being given the chance to turn himself in he decides that he would rather not and try to kill his nemesis. He is much like the Chessman Pirate Brothers as his ego is what causes his downfall and leads him to a life in jail. The one thing that shocked me about this comic series was the fact that it shows not only blood but also a suicide and shows them both very gritty and this brings a more raw and natural feeling to it. The cover on this issue also is very well done and captures the heroic nature of The Phantom and adds the touch of mobsters and gritty city life to its appeal. The art is again done by the talented Joe Orlando and his work helped make this comic series even better of a read and added to the enjoyment of the sold story written by Peter David. Over all, if you enjoy classic hero tales that are filled with drama, action and a more realistic hero, then I suggest checking out this 4 issue mini series as I am glad that I did all these years after its newsstand run. Check out below to get a taste of the artwork from Joe Orlando and see just how good it is.

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Being a fan of The Phantom since a young age, it really is shocking that it took this long for me to read this mini series as to be honest I remember seeing it at comic shops in my teens and never pulled the trigger on buying the issues. I really think fans of such characters, as Batman, Dick Tracy, The Unknown Solider and Moon Knight should check out The Phantom if you have not already. With our next update, we are staying with DC and taking a look at one of the biggest events in comic history in my life time and one that some say brought the beginning of the end for the comic boom and I am of course talking about Doomsday: The Death Of Superman! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, read a novel or two and as always support your local Horror Host, and I will see you next update for Superman’s deadliest fight ever.

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Matt Goes To The Movies 2016

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The year of 2016 was a crazy one for me as much of my time was spent working on comic books for Sparkle Comics, the company I co-own with Jason Young as well as trying to film Baron Von Porkchop episodes among many other things like helping on films and of course working on updates for here at Rotten Ink. One thing I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to this year was go to the movie theater so I want to apologies for the lack of depth to this list. 2016 was a pretty big year for cinema as we got many sequels to big budget movies like “Star Trek Beyond” and “Rougue One: A Star Wars Story.” We got classic books turned into big summer blockbusters like “Jungle Book” and “The Legend Of Tarzan,” not to mention lots of horror films from “The Conjuring 2” all the way to “Blair Witch,” the third film in that cult series. Hitting the cinemas this year, I filled my tummy with lots of popcorn and blue Icee’s and saw films in theaters like Regal, Cinemark, Danberry Huber Heights and Cranberry Cinema and had a blast watching the silver screen with friends like Juliet Fromholt, Jeremy Hoyt, Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Thomas “Maurice” Smith and many more all who made the experience more fun. A weird thing about this year in movies is that while it was filled with many blockbusters, it also had many flops that expressed moviegoers lack of interest in sequels and reboots to films of the past, but this year also proved that Disney knows how to pack them into the theater with superhero films as well as family friendly adventures. Plus, it proved to Hollywood that horror films make money and bring profits on smaller budgets. So let’s find our seats here at Rotten Ink Theater and chat a little about the films of 2016!

Film Reels

Normally I would start with my “Worst” list, but since I wasn’t at the cinema as much this year, I didn’t get to see the that many films, and lucky for me, none of the ones I did get to see were what I would call a worst film. So this time around we are going to start with science fiction and fantasy, two genres that are near and dear to my heart.  So let’s sit here for a moment and chat about them, shall we?scifi-16# 5

the-5th-wave-posterHigh school student Cassie Sullivan is stuck in a world of chaos as aliens are attacking the Earth, killing off the human race.  When her younger brother is taken, she along with some other survivors go to war to try and survive and bring back the world they once knew. This fun science fiction film was based on the book of the same name written by Rick Yancey and was filled with lots of action as well as aliens and their waves of attacks that included flooding and spreading a sickness. The film, while not groundbreaking, was a fun film to see in the theater and actress Chloe Grace Moretz is fantastic in the role of Cassie.  You definitely find yourself cheering for her to kick some alien butt. The film did poorly at the US box office for Sony and brought in $34,912,982.00 on a $38 million dollar budget, but was a hit overseas making the film semi profitable. I would say the film is worth checking out on DVD if you skipped it at the theater or even maybe a rental from a local video store.

# 4

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While a third Ghostbusters sequel with the original cast was just not in the cards, we did get a reboot to the series that featured a whole new female cast gearing up with their protonpacks and tackling a whole new group of ghosts as well as some returning favorites like Slimer! This go around we follow Dr. Erin Gilbert who lost her tenure at Columbia University after a video shows up online of her on a paranormal research.  Along with friends Dr. Abby Yates, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann and Patty Tolan, Erin opens The Ghostbusters, a business that is set to rid the city of ghosts thanks to equipment they make in house. But when the city of New York comes under attack by a powerful evil spirit, they are the only hope….but are they ready to be the heroes? The film was directed by Paul Feig and starred Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth and even has cameos from many of the actors from the original films. I found the film to be lots of fun, and the characters were well portrayed with Holtzmann being the silliest and funniest! The film had some funny moments, and I find the fact that many fanboys got butt hurt over the film being made with all females comedians as The Ghostbusters was just silly and showed that many of these types of “fans” ruin things for others as sadly the film did poorly for Sony at the US Boxoffice bringing in $128,350,574.00 on a $144 million dollar budget.  By the look of it, a sequel is not in the works. I would say if you skipped this at the theater make sure to give it a chance and watch it on DVD or Blu-Ray and make up your own mind about it.

# 3

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Disney has done another great job of turning one of their classic animated features into a live action film, and they made one heck of a great film with The Jungle Book! The film is about young human boy Mowgli who is raised by wolves in India, but when he becomes the target of the evil tiger Shere Khan, they are forced to send him away to rejoin the human race. Along his journey he is protected by black panther Bagheera and bear Baloo from not only Khan, but also giant python Kaa and King Louie, who is the king of the monkeys. But in the end Mowgli must face his fears of Shere Khan to save his animal friends and family from his terror as well as a fire that spreading across the jungle. The film was a great family adventure film and when sitting in the theater I felt like a kid again as Baloo sang “Bear Necessities.”  Everyone did a great job voicing the animals; I mean you cant go wrong with the talents of Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken. Director Jon Favreau did a fantastic job of making this film come alive and helps bring out the personality of the animals more by treating them as if they were real actors on set. The film did great for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in $364,001,123.00 on a $175 million budget making it a hit for sure! This was worth a watch and even a buy on home media if you enjoy the story of The Jungle Book as this is only slightly under the animated feature as being the best adaptation of the book.

# 2

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Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise are in major trouble when they travel into an uncharted nebula on a set up mission that leaves them at the mercy of Krall and his men who want to kill as many federation members as possible and have chaos throughout the galaxy. Can Kirk and his crew along, with their new alley Jaylah, escape the nebula and save lives in time before Krall and his fleet attacks? Watch this science fiction adventure film and find out. This was such a fun film to watch in the theater in Imax 3-D, and the addition of over the top action made it not your standard Strek Trek fare yet still kept the charm of what makes Star Trek Star Trek! This was the third in the reboot series, and after a very lackluster teaser trailer, the internet started the bashing and hating on the film before it was released.  This caused the film to perform poorly at the US Box Office for Paramount only bringing in $ 158,848,340.00 on a $185 million dollar budget. While this is not the best Star Trek film in the long running film series, I would say it’s a solid sequel that offers enough sci-fi tech talk and action to make it a fun summer popcorn movie.  Make sure to check it out on DVD as it’s well worth the watch.

# 1

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Jyn Erso is the daughter of Galen, the man who lead the construction of the Empire’s newest and most deadly weapon, the Death Star! She was left behind at a young age to be raised by Rebel extremist fighter Saw Gerrera as her father was forced into labor by Orson Kernnic, the director of the Empire’s weapons research. Now older and on her own, Jyn must track down her father who has the secrets to destroy the Death Star from the inside.  She is joined by a rag tag group made up of Rebel soldiers and supporters who go on a suicide mission in order to get the plans into the hands of the Rebels. Add in tension between Kernnic and Grand Moff Tarkin, who both want credit for the Death Star, and in a annoyed Darth Vader as well as cameos from classic Star Wars characters, and you have one well made and entertaining science fiction film! The film’s main characters have amazing chemistry with each other and the friendships that are formed make sense and just add even more layers to their personalities. My favorite character was Jyn Erso as she proved that this new crop of Star Wars films are in the right hands as they clearly care about character development and story. Seeing Darth Vader back in full badass action was something to behold in IMAX 3-D as it made me feel like a kid again, seeing Return Of The Jedi in the theater. Plus the digital Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin made my Monster Kid heart grow three sizes, and I would say that I would love to see Hammer do this and make a new Frankenstein Movie. This film is still in theaters and as of January 1st has brought in a total of $393,554,705.00 for Disney on a $200 million dollar budget and is showing no signs of slowing down. If you have not seen this film yet, do yourself a favor and do so as its well worth the 2 hours of your time.

So as you can see, Hollywood delivered some great sci-fi and fantasy films all that were fantastic watches at my local cinema, not to mention we got a new Star Wars and Star Trek film last year. But another genre of films that rocked the box office this year is my second favorite kind of films, right behind horror, and thats super hero flicks! So grab a refill on your large popcorn, and let’s talk heroes from the comic books who have made the leap to the big screen in 2016.

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# 7

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The moviegoing public seemed to not be able to get enough of Batman on the big screen, and after the last Superman movie, someone at Warner Brothers and DC Comics decided that the world needed a vs. film that pitted their top two superheroes against each other.  So Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice was created and unleashed on the masses. The film has Bruce Wayne being very angry over the fight between Superman and General Zob that left some of his employees dead and others injured, and now, as Batman, he sets his sights on stopping Superman once and for all as he feels the government has not done their job well of keeping this superhuman alien in check. Throw in Wonder Woman, Lex Luther Jr. and Doomsday, and you have this epic battle film that will test the strength and mental fortitude of our heroes. The film was a little too long and for the most part, much of the hate that Batman had for Superman was weak.  In fact half way through, you wonder just why he has projected all the hate he has in his heart toward the Man of Steel and with that, the film kind of falls apart. Other flaws for this comic book fan and movie lover were: the birth of Doomsday was just dumb and pointless and Lex Luther Jr. was a turd and acted more like he was the son of The Joker.  While it sounds like I didn’t like it, I really did enjoy it as it was a fun popcorn flick that showcased that superhero films are just enjoyable on the big screen no matter how flawed they are. The film was directed by Zack Snyder and starred Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Amy Adams and did pretty dang well for WB at the US Box Office bringing a total of $330,360,194.00 on a $250 million dollar budget. It’s worth watching on home media or even on cable as it at least will be sure to please during the fight scenes.

# 6

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back at it again as they target The Shredder and the footclan who are again attacking New York with the idea of taking over the world.  This time with the help of scientist Baxter Stockman, the foot create two mutants of their own, the warthog Bebop and rhino Rocksteady, to finally put up a fight against the turtles.  But they also have help in their battle with Casey Jones, a vigilante cop who has had enough of crime ruining his streets. Things get worst when Shredder gets help from Krang, an alien from Dimension X! This sequel is hard hitting and is packed with not only action but also lots of comedic moments that bring out the Turtles’ personalities that made them the popular characters that kids of yesterday and today know and love. This was a fun theater watch and seeing the Turtles battle Bebop and Rocksteady was something I, as a long time turtle fan, have wanted to see in a live action movie. The flaws of the movie for me was that actor Stephen Amell, who played Casey Jones was terrible and super weak in his portrayal that had him hardly wearing the character’s trademark hockey mask. Another lackluster thing was that Shredder played by Brain Lee also did not wear the character’s trademark helmet…when will Hollywood learn that people wanna see the character appear like they should and not just the actor’s face….we get what actor is playing the part! The film was directed by Dave Green and also stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Tyler Perry and Sheamus and sadly did very poorly for Paramount at the US Box Office only bringing in a small $82,051,601.00 on a $135 million dollar budget. While the film was judged pretty harshly by movie goers, I for one enjoyed it for the most part and found it a good summer popcorn flick based on characters I grew up loving.

# 5

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Dr. Stephen Strange is a genius surgeon who is cocky and ego driven, but after a major wreck, the nerves in his hands are shot and his career as a surgeon is over.  He tries all types of ways to get better that finally leaves him going to Kathmandu to seek out The Ancient One who teaches him that magic and other dimensions are the path to truly heal. But Dr. Strange gets more than he bargained for as he is forced to use his newly learned magic to fight a rogue group of dark magic students lead by Kaecilius who wants to bring the Dark Dimension ruler Dormammu into our world and bring life as we know it to an end. When the odds are against him, how can Doctor Strange out magic Dormammu in order to save us all? This was a superhero film that I was not fully looking forward to as I have never been a big fan of the comic series and for the most part find the character very boring, but this film stepped it up and made him very interesting for me. The film was directed by Scott Derrickson and actor Benedict Cumberbatch was a great choice to play Doctor Strange as he brings the character to life. This superhero popcorn film also stars Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor all of whom are fantastic in their roles of various characters from the Marvel Universe. The film has done pretty solid for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total this far of $230,323,048.00 on a $165 million dollar budget. It was well worth watching in the theater, and I will for sure buy it on DVD when released.

# 4

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The government is in big trouble when it comes to world affairs, and after Superman is no longer around, they create a task force of criminals who they will send on mission that could lead to death. The team is made up of Deadshot, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Enchantress, Katana, Slipnot and Harley Quinn and is lead by Colonel Rick Flag who informs them that if they break the rules and try to escape, they will be killed on the spot via a tiny bomb in their brains. When the Enchantress turns rogue and, along with her brother, wants to bring the world to an end, it’s up to The Suicide Squad to stop them and prove that not every bad guy is un-savable. To make things worse, The Joker has entered the combat zone as he wants his girlfriend Harley Quinn back by his side and not doing the work of government. The film also has cameos from DC Heroes like The Flash and Batman and was a really fun watch at the theater while munching on popcorn and drinking a blue icee, as I found it to be a fun ride filled with fun characters and enough action to please most fans. But for some reason like most modern DC Movies, this flick was meet with lots of internet hate even before it was released as fanboys decided they hated the casting of Jared Leto as The Joker and just over all wanted to hate on it.  I know lots of friends who joined the hate who never even saw the film but wanted to tell others not to watch it. The film as a great cast with Will Smith playing Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harely both stealing the show and making the characters their own while still holding onto elements from the comics they come from. The film did good for Warner Brothers, despite all the internet trash talking, at the US Box Office bringing in $325,100,054.00 on a budget of $175 million. This is another movie I was glad I watched in theaters and going in with low expectations and no pre-judging in my mind found it to be a great watch and one I will own on DVD very soon.

# 3

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The Apocalypse is the world’s first mutant and is godlike in nature.  In 1983, he is awakened and does not like what he sees of modern times and goes on a quest to get disciples that will act as his horsemen of the apocalypse.  He gets Magneto, Storm, Angel and Psylocke to join his cause of allowing mutants to rule and for him to lead them to a new world. Charles Xavier and his X-Men that include Beast, Havok and Quicksilver along with new members Nightcrawler, Jean Grey and Cyclops must come together and trust Mystique and try to stop the destruction of the world as we know it and stop the next age of Apocalypse. This was a really fun and action packed film in the X-Men series and was a great watch in the theater. The film brought most of the returning cast from X-Men: First Class and continued the awkward relationship between Charles and Mystique. Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac was a great narcissistic villain who would manipulate his followers with ego boosting words, but clearly he does not care if they live or die as long as he is once more in power. I also like how they showed Apocalypse past in Egypt and that’s what starts the movie off. One down side is the film focuses way too much on Mystique played by Jennifer Lawrence, and she does not rock her blue scaled skin most of the film.  It was clear she didn’t want to wear all that make up and body suit, and Fox wanted to showcase they had Lawrence still on board. This film also stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner and Olivia Munn, oh and it also has a cool cameo from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine! The film did poorly for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in $155,442,489.00 on a budget of $178 million. While this film was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, I for one found it to be a great super hero film and in fact bought it on DVD when it was released.  I suggest if you like the X-Men films and have not seen this one yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.

# 2

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Wade Wilson was a member of a special force team who has fallen in love with a woman named Venessa and all is well until Wade gets cancer and is dying.  When they cannot cure it, he decides to seek alternative help that leaves him being turned into a burnt up looking freak who cannot die! This sets Wade off who becomes the costumed anti-hero Deadpool who lurks in the shadows afraid to let Vanessa know he is alive all the while tracking down Ajax, the man who he thinks can cure him of his disfigurement. But things get bad when Ajax and his team of enhanced mutants kidnap Vanessa, and Deadpool, along with X-Men members Colossus and Warhead, must get her back! This film is rated R and is packed to the brim with crude humor and brutal kills all done with tongue in cheek one liners and grace. Ryan Reynolds returns to the role of Deadpool, with his first appearance as the character being in the 2009 film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and owns it with his wise cracking delivery. Also starring in this over the top super hero action film is Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Stan Lee and Ed Skrein, all who do great things in the roles they were cast, no matter how big or small. The film did fantastic for Fox bringing in a total of $363,070,709.00 in the US on a budget of only $58 million! This is a Marvel super hero movie that is not for kids as it really is packed with blood, cussing and very crude humor but it made for one fun and enjoyable watch for this old comic book reader. I must also say that I have never been a super fan of Deadpool as even reading comics back in the day I never paid him that much attention, but I think it’s really cool that this film as well as good solid comics being made by Marvel has made him into one of the industry’s top selling heroes. Own it on DVD now, and it’s worth watching for sure!

# 1

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Captain America and Iron Man clash in this third film in the series about everyones favorite red, white and blue Avenger. What starts the war is that Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Falcon are on a mission to stop Crossbones and his band of mercenaries that leaves humanitarian workers of Wakanda dead, and the government now wants The Avengers and other superheroes to register with them and only work when the government tells them to. Worse, when the King of Wakanda is killed and everyone blames The Winter Solider, Captain America along with his team Ant Man, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Falcon turn on the registration act and try to protect Winter Solider who claims he is innocent. This sparks the new King of Wakanda, The Black Panther, to join Iron Man, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine and Spider-Man to all do to war and little does anyone know this is all a big set up game by the sinister Baron Zemo who wants to ruin The Avengers and all the good they stand for. This film has so many more layers than what I am sharing here as it would take awhile to explain it all, and you should have or need to see it to understand why it’s my top super hero film of 2016. Chris Evans is truly Captain America come to life, and I could not imagine these films going on without him, so here is hoping he sticks around for awhile. What is great about this film, besides the solid script and amazing actors that bring their parts to life, is the fact you get some many heroes for the price of one and this includes Spider-Man as Sony and Marvel have come to an agreement that allows the hero to now take part in the Marvel Universe films and let alone one that has them all in a fight much like the WWE Survivor Series! The film did outstanding for Disney at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $408,084,349.00 on the massive budget of $250 million. I don’t want to go on too much about this film as I think it speaks better for itself, and all I can say is Spider-Man and Black Panther are great new additions to this amazing film universe that Disney and Marvel are delivering to all us movie goers.

So as you can see, 2016 had some really great super hero films that delivered action and adventure and entertained the movie going masses. Another genre that delivered this year was horror, and while the theater was packed with more ghost and possession movies that seem to be the life blood of horror for the last few years, it also had some slashers and iconic characters returning to the silver screen that included The Tall Man of Phantasm and Godzilla! Blumhouse once more proved that there is money in horror films as many films they produced hit and scared the crowds.  They have quickly become a production team that I look forward to seeing what they release next. So let’s dim these theater lights a little more and let’s take a look at the top horror films that I saw in the theater in 2016!

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# 17

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Dana is a woman who is haunted by the accidental death of her baby daughter, and alongside her husband David and son Lucas she moves out of the city and into a giant old house in the country that was once owned by the town’s top judge. But after finding a closed off room in the attic that was not on the house’s blueprints, she soon starts to see ghosts of the judge and his dog and finds that the room held a family secret that left a young girl murdered.  Now she must solve the mystery or lose her own mind doing so. This film is yet another ghost/possession film and suffers from a paper thin story mostly dealing with Dana’s mental breakdown and is by all accounts very boring in its delivery to try to scare us in the theater. When seeing this film, only one other guy was in the theater and he seemed to be bored as he kept checking his phone and even after it was done looked over at me and talked about just how lame the film was and how the characters did things that lead to nowhere.  Sad to say, the phone checker was right, the film’s characters just seemed like shells of people doing silly things that had no real outcome. The actors in this boring horror film include Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Gerald McRaney and Lucas Till and while they are all great actors in other films, what they are given to do here is very weak, and this was one that I would suggest that most skip unless you have a free rental or is on cable TV. The film did poorly for Rogue Pictures only bringing in the small amount of $2,423,468.00 at the US box office on a $15 million dollar budget. Over all, while I love seeing horror films in the theater, this one almost put me to sleep even after drinking a large blue Icee, this is hands down the worst horror film I saw in theaters this year!

# 16

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Peter Taylor and his wife Bronny are having issues in their marriage, and their children also have their issues as daughter Stephanie has a eating disorder and son Michael is autistic.  The last happy moment of their life together was a family vacation they took with friends at the Grand Canyon where, unknown to them all, Michael removes and takes home stones that were placed to keep Native American demon spirits trapped.  Now with the stones moved and at the Taylor’s home, they must find out the clues to why mystery animals are appearing, why Michael is talking to the walls that he calls The Sky People and acting up. In the end they must call a healer to try and clear the house of the spirits ,but is it enough and can the love of a family be enough to send the demons back? While the film was not terrible it, was nothing new and seemed like just a watered down version of Amityville Horror and or even Poltergeist, and yep, marks yet another possession/ghost film to be released this year that seems to still be the flavor of the decade for horror film makers. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, Paul Reiser and Llza Rosario and was directed by Greg McLean who is known for directing the Wolf Creek series. The film turned a profit for High Top Releasing at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $10,753,574.00 on a $4 Million Dollar budget. Not recommended for those looking for horror films that showcase the bad guys more than a total of maybe a minute the whole film or ones who don’t like slow burn horror

# 15

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Rocky is a young woman with a daughter who lives in Detroit with her rude and crude mother and in order to get money, she robs houses with her boyfriend Money and friend Alex who’s father works for a home security company. Rocky needs one last big score in order to move away with her daughter, and they select the house of a blind vet named Norman Nordstrom who was awarded money after his daughter was killed in a drunk driver auto accident. But once inside, they find out that this blind man is not helpless and has his own dirty secrets to hide away! Norman along with his dog hunt down the burglars and make them pay for entering his home and finding out his dark twisted secret that is worth killing for. Don’t Breathe is a horror thriller that has elements of being a slasher film as Norman is brutal in his ways of killing and seems to feel what he is doing is right! While I did enjoy this film and had a good time watching it in the theater with Juliet, the film had some flaws that were pretty outstanding to me.  The fact NONE of the characters are likable people.  From Rocky all the way to Norman, they are all bad people who do bad things! The fact that by the end Norman who is a normal man seems to not be able to be killed like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees as he seems to be superhuman and shrug off killing blows is dumb. Another thing that annoyed me is the fact that Rocky and Alex, during their time of trying to escape the house of this madman, never have the idea of using a weapon until toward the end of the film. The film does have some amazing actors who do fantastic in their roles as Stephen Lang is great as the blind Norman and Jane Levy is amazing as Rocky and the supporting cast as well hold their own. At the US box Office this film brought in a total of $89,059,699.00 for Sony on a budget of only $9.9 million making it a hit for the studio. Over all this Sam Raimi produced film was not terrible but also was nothing special and some of the flaws made it very annoying to this horror fan. I would say worth the watch on DVD and Blu-Ray. Also I should note that this film was one I was super hyped for after seeing the trailer and was a tad bit of a letdown.

# 14

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Rob Zombie strikes again with a foul language horror film packed with lots of blood and some weird yet fascinating characters with his film 31. The film follows a group of carnival workers who have been kidnapped and forced to play a game of life and death on Halloween Night by some rich people who have employed killers like chainsaw brothers Sick-Head & Psycho-Head as well as other killers Schizo-Head, Sex-Head, Death-Head and the all time kill champion Doom-Head to hunt them down and kill them as they beat on their survival. The film is packed with some brutal kills and for the most part the carnival workers are likable people who you want to see make it out alive and survive the killers attacks as well as you root for them to deliver justice to the psychos! The downside to the film, like most Rob Zombie films, is the dialogue is terrible in spots and so over the top its laughable as he tries to use almost every cuss word he can think of! The other flaw the film has was that in spots he uses shaky camera techniques in order to mask some of the film’s lower budget special effects. But while it has flaws it also had things I really liked about it as I found the killers odd and memorable, I loved the fact that the carnival workers fight back and are not just helpless victims, his use of classic rock songs also was pretty well done and the acting was good for what terrible lines they were given. The film has an all star cast with names like Malcolm McDowell, Meg Foster, Lew Temple, Ginger Lynn, Sheri Moon Zombie and a stunning E.G. Daily from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure as Sex-Head. Richard Brake who plays Doom-Head does great and the character is not only sadistic but also gross and just a foul human being. The film at the US box office brought in a total of $779,820.00 for Saban Films, and I must say while Rob Zombie films are not perfect, they at least have heart and are entertaining in some way or another. Oh yeah and I have to say I hated the ending – those who have seen this film will know what I am talking about.

# 13

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The Forest is a supernatural horror film based on the Aokigahara Forest that follows Sara who travels to Japan and journeys into the forest to find her missing identical twin sister Jess whom people believe went into the forest to commit suicide.  She is joined by Michi a park ranger and Aiden, a reporter. But she soon finds out that the forest has plans of its own and that the dead don’t rest in these haunted woods. So does she find Jess? Is she alive or dead? Why do people say not to stay in the woods at night? Watch this film to find those answers! The film is packed with jump scares, some creepy ghosts and a great atmosphere, but also has a cheesy hole filled plot as well as some paint by number horror clichés that make it an average supernatural horror romp. Natalie Dormer best known from the HBO show Game Of Thrones plays the twins Sara and Jess and looks fantastic, and the music done by Bear McCreary is well done and makes scenes pop. The film brought in a total of $26,594,261.00 for Gramercy Pictures at the US Box Office on a $10 million dollar budget. Not amazing and not bad, The Forest is one you might want to rent or check out on DVD.

# 12

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The Other Side Of The Door was a horror film that was orignaly supposed to be a wide release that then turned into a limited release, and I was lucky enough to catch it at Regal Cinema. The film is about Maria who is living the perfect life in India along with her husband Michael, son Oliver, young daughter Lucy and maid Myrtu, but that perfect life comes to an end when an accident leaves Oliver dead and Maria heartbroken and not able to get over the accident and the loss of her son. Six years after the accident, Maria gets her chance to tell her deceased son goodbye thanks to Myrtu who tells her of a ritual and place that will allow her to speak to him from the other side of a door.  The only catch is you can’t open the door…and of course Maria does and by doing so free’s something sinister. The film is another ghost/possession film and had a few good chills and had a great setting being in India, not your typical American or England backdrop. The film’s cast was good with Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sisto heading the pack and each doing well in their roles. The film did not perform great for Fox at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $3,000,342.00 due to them making it a limited release. Not groundbreaking but very entertaining and was worth the theater watch for me as well as Josh Weinberg who tagged along.

# 11

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The Witch was a Horror Film that had lots of buzz around it on the internet and among fans before it even hit theaters.  Stephen King even said The Witch scared the hell out of him, but could it live up to that for movie goers? The film is about William and his family leaving the safety of a plantation in New England and making a farm in the middle of nowhere surrounded by woods and something sinister that steals and kills their youngest child. Quickly the family starts falling apart as oldest daughter Thomasin is blamed for the wrong doings by her mother, while all along The Witch of the woods and the mysterious goat named Black Phillip are the chaos makers at hand. The film is well acted with stand out performances from Ralph Ineson who played William and Anya Taylor-Joy who played Thomasin, and the atmosphere is great and has a feeling of dread all around the farm as we witness the breakdown of a God-fearing family. But the Witch character herself who takes two forms, one being old and the other glamor porn star, is just not really scary and is not really used throughout the hour and a half shocker. Much of the film, the characters spend time praying or chatting about God and religion, and I hate to say this, at some points I became very bored at drawn out moments. While this was not a bad movie, it was not as scary, spooky nor bone chilling as I hoped for. The only part that got me was when The Witch killed the young baby and mashed its body up and covered herself with its blood, and keep in mind this description is more graphic than what you see on the screen. It was also great to hear how split the group of friends and family I went with were on this film, and I had to laugh when one young lady at the end of the film let out a loud “This Movie Sucked” announcement. The film did okay for A24 at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $25,138,705.00 on a budget of $3.5 million, showing that lower budget horror films can make studios extra cash. While I didn’t hate this film, in no way am I a super fan of this film…I might check it out again once on DVD.

# 10

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The final Phantasm film and the fifth film in the series was released this year, and it was bitter sweet to see it in the big screen thanks to Horrorama as it was the end of the franchise and sadly just an okay entry in the series. The film follows Ice Cream Man Reggie as he is trying to track down his missing friend Mike and along the way fight off The Tall Man and his evil spheres and henchmen. But this is the world of Phantasm, so nothing and no one are what they seem, and Reggie must try and use his wits to figure out the real world from the other dimension. Reggie is joined by fellow Tall Man hunters and together they must team up against his horde of followers and crack the code and stop the coming end of times. The film was produced by Don Coscarelli the series creator and was directed by David Hartman and stars Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm and A. Michael Baldwin and sadly had its premiere on Video On Demand but lucky for me it was a film that had it’s Dayton area first movie theater showing at Horrorama allowing me to watch the film from the projection window. While I enjoyed the film, I also saw that it had lots of flaws and for the most part is just a showcase of Reggie with very little Tall Man surrounded by low budget digital effects. The film has been meet with mixed reviews and really does mark the end of the series as Angus “Tall Man” Scrimm sadly passed away in early 2016. Fans of the series should for sure check it out on DVD or streaming rental.

# 9

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Alice Zander and her two young daughters Lina and Doris are living in a Los Angeles suburban house in 1967 and charge people for giving them spiritual readings. But when Alice buys a Ouija Board as a new prop to use, she soon finds out that Doris has a real gift and can communicate with the dead including her dead father…or can she as soon it’s clear something evil has came through and is using the young girl as a vessel and its up to Lina and her mother to save their loved one from a terrible possessed fate. This sequel was leaps and bounds better than its predecessor and is filled with some creepy moments and is well acted with Elizabeth Reaser who played Alice Zander stealing the show, not to mention this film brings to life the events of the first film as it acts as a prequel. The film did pretty well for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in a total of $34,992,970.00 on a $9 million budget showing that movie goers still want to see possession and ghost films. Worth watching for sure and like I said, way better than the first film.

# 8

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James Donahue, the brother of missing person Heather Donahue, along with some friends go to the woods near Burkittsville when a tape is found in a tree that appears to show Heather alive and running through a house in the woods. Once there, they hook up with some local YouTube ghost hunters and soon find out that they are not alone as The Blair Witch is back and looking for more young adults to kill. Does James find his missing sister? Does the house in the woods really exist? And can James and his friends get out of the woods alive? All this is answered in this third film in the series that was original being advertised as The Woods. The film was one I was super hyped to see as I was a fan of the 1999 original film The Blair Witch Project and it had been over 16 years between sequels.  While I enjoyed the film, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of scares and some times unmotivated actions of the friends who make some really terrible decisions. One very cool thing is that in some shots you get a quick glimpse of what the Witch looks like, and I have a theory that she just might be an alien or even a interdenominational being! The film did good for Lionsgate at the US Box Office even though its was below what they expected as it brought in $20,777,061.00 on a $5 million budget! While not an amazing sequel, it’s way better than part two and was a fun watch in the theater, check it out on DVD.

# 7

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What was originally a short film made for the internet, Lights Out made its way to being a feature length that hit theaters this year. Rebecca is a young woman who is into drawing dark pictures who moved away from home when her mother had a series of mental breakdowns. After her stepfather is killed and her Mother begins acting crazy again, she takes her young brother Martin in who is not sleeping after being tormented by a shadow woman! Rebecca along with her boyfriend Bret and Martin are forced to stay at their mother’s house when the government forces Martin to be with his mother. The group soon learns that the shadow lady is indeed real and her name is Diana, and she was an odd child who was “friends” with their mother after they meet in a mental asylum and after being killed in a treatment gone wrong she lives on as a sinister shadow that lives on thanks to the weakness of their mothers mental state! Now Diana is mad and wants to live on and will kill whom ever tries to get in her way.  Now it’s up to Rebecca to save her family and rid the world of the sinister demonic Diana. This film is a jump scare fest filled with some creepy effects and a really cool monster as Diana could easily become a new horror icon that could spark sequels for years to come. The film was rated PG-13 and while not a bloodbath, it does have some gruesome moments that I am sure will scare the wits out of many viewers. Another cool fact is that this was released by Warner Brothers under New Line Cinema, and it made me miss when New Line was its own company and would embrace the world of horror films. The film did great for WB at the US Box Office delivering $67,268,835.00 on a small $4.9 million budget showing that horror films are very profitable and also sparked talks of a sequel! While not groundbreaking and pretty much another ghost/possession film, it was a fun watch in the theater and is one I now own on DVD and would suggest fans of these types of films to watch.

# 6

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Dr. Seth Ember is a man who lost his family in a terrible car accident that was caused by a demon named Maggie.  This accident also left him in a wheelchair and put his faith and will to live for anything besides revenge to the test. You see Ember spends his time in a trance near death’s door that allows him to enter the subconscious of possessed people and exorcize the demon from within by giving the person’s own will a choice to expel the demon from their own bodies. But when Maggie shows back up inside a young 11 year old boy, he must come face to face with his family’s killer and will put his very own life and soul on the line as a warzone has been set that will leave everyone around to never be the same again. This film, while a possession film, is done differently from most as it downplays the religious elements and up plays the scientific and psychic way to defeat a demon, and our hero is wheelchair bound and not a saint of a person at all as he is only doing this for his own quest for revenge making him not your typical hero. The film stars Aaron Eckhart as Seth Ember and co-stars Carice Van Houten, Catalina Sandino Moreno and even has WWE wrestler Mark Henry in a cameo role. The film was a team up of WWE Studios and Blumhouse Productions and was a solid entertaining PG-13 horror film that was super enjoyable in the theater even if Juliet and I were the only people their to see it. The film has some blood and violence with some chilling moments and sadly did very poorly for High Top Releasing at the Box Office in the US only bringing in $4,777,253.00 on a budget of $5 million and for some reason had very poor word of mouth among horror fans. While this film was not perfect, I did find it pretty original for a genre of horror that is getting very stale, worth watching on cable or renting from your local video store and for me, I am sure I will pick it up on DVD when released.

# 5

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Japan is under attack by a giant lizard monster who keeps evolving and is being called Godzilla. The prime minister of Japan and his cabinet must find a way to keep the giant monster at bay or even better yet kill it and even get the help of America but all military attempts fail as Godzilla has his own tricks that include fire breath and fire blasts from his tail. Finally after many human deaths, lots of destruction and many failed attempts Godzilla is stopped thanks to a team effort that leaves him frozen from the inside out and like a statue, but not all is as it seems as Godzilla’s tail may have its own living race of creatures ready to come alive. This film is very slow moving and mixes elements of horror, science fiction and drama to deliver a very new and unique re-telling of the origin of Godzilla as many options are hinted at yet never confirmed, and some how this odd combination works really well! Godzilla looks like he has never looked before, and this new generation of films looks like it might be one that evolves with each new installment. This is a real hard movie to explain as it has lots of political moments and is less about Godzilla and more about the state of Japan. The film had a very limited theatrical release here in America, and I was lucky enough to catch it at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek along with my friends Jeremy Hoyt, Erin R. Ryan and Sean Leo. Shin Godzilla brought in $1,918,403.00 in the US for FUNimation on a budget of $15 million and this was just icing on the cake as the film made way more in Japan. Worth watching and one I will own when on DVD, but I must also say this film is not for everyone and would probably bore many younger Godzilla fans.

# 4

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Michelle leaves her fiance after an argument and during her drive out of town, she gets into a terrible accident when a truck smashes into her and wakes up in chains in a fall out bunker owned by a man named Howard. Michelle thinks she’s being kept captive but soon learns from her host Howard that an attack has taken place that has left the outside air poisonous, and his story is backed up by Emmett another man taking shelter in the bunker. But after Howard’s odd and some time anger filled moods as well as witnessing a woman die from the air outside, the mystery of who did this attack as well as Howard really is unfolds. The film has so many twists and turns and delivers suspense with a horror vibe so well that I found myself glued to the movie screen watching it, and that’s saying something as the film this loose sequel spawned off of Cloverfield, which was not very good in my opinion. The acting is top notch with John Goodman as Howard stealing the show as well as other actors Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. delivering solid performances. The film is packed with some suspenseful and sinister moments, and I don’t want to spoil anything on what is really outside as I think it’s something you need to just see for yourself. The film did good for Paramount at the US Box Office bringing in $72,082,998.00 on a budget of $15 million causing talks of a sequel. Worth watch and was leaps and bounds better than the original and does away with the shaky came found footage style and delivers a solid spooky and well done movie.

# 3

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The Boy was one of those films that when my cousin Stephen and I saw the trailer at work when it was released into the world wide web, we knew we had to see it the weekend it came out, as growing up Stephen was scared of creepy dolls, and it’s our thing when we talk horror films. The film follows Greta, a young American woman who is getting away from her abusive boyfriend and takes a nanny job in England for the Heelshire family.  When the parents go on a holiday she is to watch after their son Brahms. But things are very odd as Brahms is nothing more than a doll who the Heelshire’s treat as a living child, and worse she learns from grocery delivery man Malcolm that Brahms died in a fire after an “accident” happened to a young girl near the house. Brahms has rules that must be followed, and Greta soon finds out that things are not as they seem as The Doll seems to have ideas of its own or does it? This is the kind of film that takes twists and turns and keeps a spooky gothic/haunting pace and then turns it up a notch with a surprise ending that some fans might see coming, but others might not…so I will not spoil it for you here. The film stars Lauren Cohan as Greta who is best known for playing Maggie Greene on the hits TV Show The Walking Dead, and she does a great job and is truly a stunning actress. During the film my girlfriend Juliet leaned over in pure joy and said the film reminded her of a cult classic “Tourist Trap,” and the rest of our viewing party seemed to get a kick out of this weird little horror gem. The film did pretty good for STX Entertainment at the US Box Office Bringing in a total of $35,819,556.00, if you like horror films set in a spooky old castle home and like creepy dolls check this one out on DVD or Blu-Ray.

# 2

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Leo Barnes is now working as a security chief for Senator Charlie Roan, a woman who had her family killed on a purge night many years back and wants to get rid of the day that she finds barbaric and wrong. But when she ruffles the feathers of the New Founding Fathers, they lift the band on not being able to kill a government official and hire a group of mercenaries to take her life! Leo, along with cornerstore workers and a group of protesters, must keep her safe throughout the night so she can make it to election day and rid America of this terrible yearly event. This is the third film in this amazing series and blends horror really well with action, drama and most surprisingly, a message, as all the films thus far have been not just about brutal killings but more about how society is going and how the 1% truly do call the shots. Leo and Senator Charlie are both very likable characters that you find yourself cheering for as are the workers of the small corner store who show that community and friends need to watch out for each other during the good and bad times. Another aspect of this film I liked is how America has turned the Purge into a tourist attraction where rich people from all over the world come to kill the weak and poor. The film stars Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell and Berry Gabriel and did really well for Universal at the US Box Office as if brought them in $79,042,440.00 on a small budget of $10 million and once more this was produced by Blumhouse proving these guys know horror! Own it on DVD and if you have not seen it and have enjoyed the other two films in the series, make sure you check this one out as it was a easy pick for my # 2! I want to also note that I saw this film at the Cranberry Cinema with Juliet during a Monsterbash vacation.

# 1

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In 1976, Lorraine and Ed Warren were looking into the haunting at the house in Amityville and during this investigation Lorraine gets a vision of her husband’s death as well sees a evil demonic Nun who haunts her dreams as well as her family’s even after leaving the home. Now in 1977, single mother Peggy and her children are living in a home in England when an evil spirit comes out to play and possesses young Janet who can speak with the voice of a 77 year old man as well as other creepy stuff happens around the house. The church asks Ed and Lorraine to look into the case, and they soon find that there is more evil at play than just the ghost of the house’s former owner as the Nun is there and wants to make Lorraine’s vision of her husband’s death a reality! Can Ed and Lorraine save the family from the torment of the evil spirits and can they prove the vision wrong? Watch this creepy ghost film to find out! This sequel is as good as the original, and Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson who play Lorraine and Ed Warren are fantastic and truly are what make these films work so well as you find yourself bonding with them. The films villain is Valak a demon who takes the appearance of the Demon Nun and who is just pure evil and is sure to scare many viewers with her sinister looks. Director James Wan knows how to take the true case files of the Warrens and along with his writers created a spooky film that does not suffer from being only PG-13 as it uses mood and jump scares to fill the audience with fright and when seeing this in the theater I can tell you I heard many of my fellow movie goers gasp and shriek with terror and to me that shows this flick did what it was suppose to do. The film was put out by Warner Brothers via New Line Cinema and did great at the Box Office here in the US as on a budget of $40 million it brought in $102,470,008.00 proving as I have said many times in this update that horror is profitable. I own this film on DVD and watched it again, and it still holds up and won easily my # 1 spot for best theater-viewed horror film of 2016! So if you like your horror films filled with demon nuns, jump scares, cool and creepy soundtrack and likable characters this one is for you!

So there it is. my best of 2016 in films I got to see in the theater, and I must say while I didn’t get to go as much as I wanted, the times I did get to go I had a blast! And I will make this promise that next year I will make sure to make more time to get my butt to the theater so that my Best of 2017 will be epic! Plus with rumors next year of new Friday The 13th, Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville films, the horror competition will be high and dare I say cutthroat! But the Rotten Ink Theater clean up crew is here to sweep out all the popcorn so we should wrap this up.  I hope you enjoyed this update as much as I did writing it and our next update we are headed to Africa to spend some time with The Phantom! So until then, go see a movie or four and support your local movie theater!

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Spend Christmas Eve With The Gremlins!

Merry Christmas Eve, and welcome back to Rotten Ink, my cozy little slice here on the web. This day is always filled with big smiles and heartwarming moments, another thing it brings is Christmas movies and TV specials! How many of you remember watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or even “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” on your local station? Or even watching classic holiday films like “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “Ernest Saves Christmas”, “Prancer” or the ever so classic “A Christmas Story” on a cold December night? But for monster kids like myself, this time of the year also brings horror Christmas films that warm the heart as well as chill the blood. I mean who can not want to watch films this time of year like “Silent Night Deadly Night 1-5”, “Santa Claws”, “Silent Night Bloody Night”, “Jack Frost”, “Christmas Evil”, “Elves” or even the film that’s todays update and of course I am talking “Gremlins”! I mean every kid I knew growing up loved this film and everyone I knew talked about it with affection and wonderment, as it was a film we could all bound over. So I want to think you for spending a small part of your Christmas Eve with me and am very proud to bring you this update based on the beloved classic film Gremlins, so join me on this zany update that I hope will fill your mind and soul with a little joy. And I need to remind you of the rules of Gremlins for our own sanity and safety! 1.) No Bright Light, the light will hurt them and could kill them. 2.) Don’t Get Him Wet, as that makes them multiply! 3.) Never Feed Them After Midnight, as this will cause them to spawn from cute little Mogwai to a cacoon that hatches and now you have a sinister Gremlin on your hands! So with those rules in mind lets move onto this Joyess update.

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So as always we should start our look at Gremlins with taking a look at the 1984 movie, I can remember watching this movie around Christmas every year when I was a youngster on Beta Tape and later VHS and it really did become a staple of my Holiday viewing. Even when I got older and worked for Blockbuster Video for the Holidays my Store Manager use to let us play G and PG films that fit the season and I always selected Gremlins, and not much has changed on that front as now at Game Swap if Gremlins is in stock it goes in to entertain shoppers and employees alike! So as always the films write up is coming from IMDB to keep me from being long winded and I’ll also break down its Box Office numbers here in America.

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Gremlins (1984)

Miniature green monsters tear through the small town of Kingston Falls. Hijinks ensue as a mild-mannered bank teller releases these hideous loonies after gaining a new pet and violating two of three simple rules: No water (violated), no food after midnight (violated), and no bright light. Hilarious mayhem and destruction in a town straight out of Norman Rockwell. So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repair man, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. ‘Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.”

Gremlins is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time as it mixes the magic and wonder of the Holiday season and tosses in a dash of Horror. I can as I have said remember watching this film on VHS/Beta when I was a kid and almost wearing out the tapes, as I could not get enough of Gizmo and his war with Stripe and the evil Gremlins. The film was directed by Joe Dante who directed such films as The Howling, Piranha, Explorers and Innerspace to name a few. The stars of the movie are Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller, Hoyt Axton, Judge Reinhold and Corey Feldman to name a few as well and had Howie Mandel doing the voice of Gizmo and Megatron himself Frank Welker lending his pipes to Stripe as well as other Gremlins. The film was Scored by Jerry Goldsmith and distributed by Warner Brothers and executive produced by Steven Spielberg with it being released on June 8, 1984 with an $11 million dollar budget. The year it was released Gremlins made $148,168,459.00 at the US Box Office and was # 4 for the year beating out such other classic films like The Karate Kid, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Purple Rain, The Terminator, Friday The 13th IV: Final Chapter, Conan The Destroyer, The Last Starfighter, Dune, A Nightmare On Elm Street and so many more classic and cult films! In fact 1984 was one epic year for movies as it was filled with many classics as well as cult classics! The film is packed with so many moments that have stuck in my mind over the years from the baby Mogwai’s eaten cold fried chicken after midnight to them playing a miniature Donkey Kong arcade machine, clips of classic Horror movies and TV shows playing on the televisions, Robbie The Robot (Forbidden Planet) walks by in a scene and the stacks of Comic books in Billy’s room all stuff that is fun, silly and great moments of the film.

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The films main star is a cute little guy called Gizmo who is a species known as a Mogwai. Unlike others in his species he is kind and gentile and refuses to be evil like his brothers and sisters who want to morph and become Gremlins. Gizmo is named that after Billy and his father talk about how he likes and can figure out how to use the gadgets the father makes. Gizmo was originally owned by Mr. Wing and later belonged to Billy and then back to Mr. Wing until the old mans death and then he returned to live with Billy and Kate in New York. Almost every fan of this movie growing up I can remember them owning a Gizmo doll and almost every woman I have ever meet who loves this film series LOVES Gizmo. Super smart, super cute and much like Rambo when pushed he will fight back…in other words Gizmo rules!

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So we talked the hero of the film so we might as well chat a little about the leader of the bad guys the sinister and evil Stripe! Stripe was born from Gizmo after water is spilled on him and from his birth on he had a sinister streak and also seemed to be a leader to the other Mogwai. Stripe is named this as he has a white Mohawk that looks like a stripe on the top of his head. Stripe also hates Gizmo as he not only as a Mogwai but also a Gremlin will do what ever he can to hurt or kill him. Once a Gremlin the more murderous side of Stripe comes out as he uses guns, saws and arrows to try and kill anyone who gets in his way namely Billy. Super smart and having a real mean streak makes Stripe a very mean foe, but by the end he meets his end and we will get into that a little later in this update. While gone some say he was reborn in the second movie as Mohawk who spends the movie trying to kill Gizmo and Billy and even turns himself into a Spider Gremlin. Love him or hate him Stripe was one of the 80’s coolest bad guys of kid movie cinema.

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The original Gremlins had many stand out creatures from the ski mask wearing robber Gremlin to Stripe the white Mohawk leader of the pack of mischief makers, but for me one of my all time favorites has to be the popcorn bag eared Gremlin who was watching Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at the local movie theater! Something about this strange Gremlin who decided that wearing popcorn bags on his ears was the right choice always made me laugh as a kid and has always stuck with me even as a adult. I think someone should make a Gremlins comic book series and have issues that follow some of the Gremlins during the first break out and do one on old popcorn bag ears! I think IDW would be the perfect home for comics based on Gremlins and while at it they should also do a series about The Goonies another film my generation and beyond holds near and dear. While he only had seconds of screen time Popcorn Bag Eared Gremlin will always be one of my favorites in this film just behind Stripe.

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One thing I should touch up on is the fact many youngsters of the 80’s had a huge crush on Phoebe Cates who played Kate Beringer in Gremlins 1 & 2 as well as had roles in other classics like “Drop Dead Fed”, “Date With An Angel” and of course “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” where she has the famous pool scene were she pops her top! And I was one of those youngsters who thought actresses like Phoebe Cates, Mia Sara, Helen Slater and Kerri Green were the be all of beauty. Phoebe is pretty much retired from acting with her last role being in the 2001 film “The Anniversary Party” and she is married to actor Kevin Kline who is known for his roles in classics like “A Fish Called Wanda”, “Dave” and “Wild Wild West” to name a very select few. Phoebe Cates at the time of this update is 53 years old and as lovely as ever, thanks Mrs. Cates for making the 80’s and early 90’s awesome with your beauty and your acting skill and film choices. Check out below for some pictures showing the beauty of Phoebe Cates.

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While this update is based on the adaptation of the original Gremlins movie, I feel that it’s my duty to cover the second film as well! So once again the film’s plot is taken from IMDB and for me was another fun must-watch as it now added horror hosting, Christopher Lee and over the top silly comedy to the mix.

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Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

An army of malevolent little monsters take over a high-tech corporate skyscraper when a cute and intelligent exotic pet is exposed to water. The “Mogwai’s” owner joins forces with the Trump-like head of the corporation to regain control.”

You cant keep good Gremlins down and in 1990 a sequel called “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” was released in theaters to add another crazy and silly adventure for Gizmo, Billy and Kate to get through. Many things made this movie stick out to me and I might as well share them real quick with you on this Holiday update. I loved the New Gremlins who were cross breed with other things to create such gremlins as Electric Gremlin, Brain Gremlin, Vegetable Gremlin and Bat Gremlin to name a very few. It’s great to see Christopher Lee as Doctor Catheter in the film as well as having Dick Miller return as his character Murray Futterman from the first film. I also really like the fact that they have a Horror Host character named Grandpa Fred who is a vampire that’s hosts terrible movies. You have to think that parts of this movie is spoofing Ted Turner and Al Lewis aka Grampa from Super Scary Saturday. Also a Pro Wrestler has a cameo in the film but we will get to that a little later. The film didn’t do to well for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office bringing in $41,482,207.00 on a budget of $50 million, but made up for it on Home Video. The film ranked # 31 for the year of 1990 and beat such classic and cult films as Rocky V, Darkman, Predator 2, Child’s Play 2, The Exorcist III, Ernest Goes To Jail, Quigley Down Under, Tremors, Duck Tales: The Movie, Death Warrant and Tales From The Darkside: The Movie to name a select few. While not a Box Office hit every kid I knew growing up loved this silly, goofy film! Oh and the picture below is the Phantom Of The Opera Gremlin…yeah he was one of my favorites! I should also note that the sequel was directed by Joe Dante again and starred returning cast Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Dick Miller and has actors like Christopher Lee, Robert Prosky and John Glover added to the lineup.

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When I was a youngster as all you long time readers and friends know I was and still am a huge Pro Wrestling fan and I can remember going crazy when Hulk Hogan showed up in a cameo in Gremlins 2! During the movie The Gremlins stop the film being mischief making little monsters and the theater usher goes into the theater and asks Hulk Hogan if he can help to get the film back on track and after cutting a great promo about soda and popcorn the Gremlins in fear start the movie up again! Hulk Hogan was such a big icon amongst kids I can remember kids on the playground after seeing Gremlins 2 talking about his scene in the movie among the excitement of all the different Gremlin styles. As always The Hulkster added to the enjoyment of the youth with his over the top cameo in Gremlins 2.

Hulk Hogan in Gremlins 2

Like all good kids movies of the 80’s Gremlins sparked a rush of merchandise based around its characters! Such amazing things like toys, novels, kids books, posters, Halloween costumes, trading cards, Shrinky Dinks, Colorforms, shirts, breakfast cereal, candy, Plush Dolls and a slew of other cheap products and junk foods. Growing up I can remember eating Gremlins cereal in the morning as well as had many of the trading cards and ate the candy that we would get from UDF as it came in a plastic head of Stripe or Gizmo and they seemed like something I had to have in my youth. I also owned the Novel adaptations of both Gremlins 1 and 2 as well as many of the kids books based on it. As an adult I own theatrical posters for both Gremlins and Gremlins 2 that are hanging on the wall inside of Game Swap in Kettering and as well have the Colorforms I got from the store Twin Evil. So much merchandise was released for this film showing you that Warner Brothers knew they had something special with this film. So growing up what kind of Gremlin stuff do you guys own?

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Some of the best merchandise has to be the action figures and dolls that was made when the film was released and are still being made even to this day. Growing up I had many PVC figures from Gizmo to Stripe that latter who I also owned a bendable of. I can also remember my Uncle had one of the larger Stripe action figures and my brother and me were so obsessed with it. With in the last few years I started to collect some of the NECA figures based on Gremlins and Gremlins 2 as they are very well made figures and look great on a shelf. Last year Funko as part of the ReAction figure series of retro style 3 ¾” action figures released ones based on Gremlins that showcased not only Gizmo and the Gremlins but also Billy! Growing up I wish they had these Star Wars size Gremlins figures as they would have been a welcome addition to the Toy Wars, imagine Stripe and his fellow Gremlins trying to murder the Ewoks at the Ewok Village playset! So if you’re a toy collector many great actions figures have and are being made based on this iconic holiday classic movie and it’s sequel!

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Jerry Goldsmith is a legend of making score music and has done so for many iconic films like “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, “Alien”, “First Blood”, “Psycho II”, “Congo”, “Mulan” and so many more and of course on this list was both Gremlins and Gremlins 2! The films main theme called “The Gremlin Rag” is such an iconic piece of music and a tune that I find myself humming pretty often, and to be honest I have also caught my girlfriend Juliet as well humming it! The soundtracks are something we play on Alpha Rhythms from time to time as well as on Game Swap’s Radio that plays overhead. While I would say that the original Gremlins soundtrack is a must own for fans of score music, I would say Gremlins 2 while very good and solid is more for diehard fans of the film. But if your love score music like me make sure to give these a listen as they will help add to your Holiday Mood if you’re a Monster Kid.

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Gizmo would also make a leap into the world of Video Games and started out in 1984 when two games based on the movie for Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 was released to gamers, and while the game was nothing special it seemed like a must have for my friends who had Atari’s growing up. The Nintendo not to be left out in 1990 thanks to SunSoft released a video game based on Gremlins 2, this was a game I can remember renting from the video store and latter ending up just buying it used. But while those two are the video games that stand out to me many other more modern games have been made as well based on this film series for such systems as Wii and Game Boy Advance. I should also note that Commodore 64 as well had games based on Gremlins come out it can be said for PC as well. I would love to see a company like Telltale Games make a modern game based on Gremlins for the PS4, but sadly I don’t see this happening.

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So with it being Christmas Eve and all I think it’s time to take a quick break and plug in the old RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) to play a Pacnsacdave game based on the original Gremlins! Yes this is a homebrew NES Games based around the 1984 film and has you take control of Gizmo as you make your way through a building that’s been over run with Gremlins all looking to kill you! I got this game on a NES Cart as well in a great clamshell style package with cover art and must say I was very happy with the presentation of this product and must say that Pacnsacdave does fantastic work with his reproduction products. Christmas time always makes me think of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) as way back in my youth my parents got me and my brother one as a shared gift on this holiday, and I can remember the pure hype we had when playing our very own system and trying as a family to beat Super Mario Brothers and all having a blast playing Duck Hunt. So many great old school memories of the NES with friends, family and co-workers and here tonight I want to share another NES memory and that’s me playing and maybe trying to beat Gremlins!

Gremlins for the NES

I decided to play this game on May 31, 2016 as I had the day off from work and it was right after Memorial Day spent with Juliet and her Parents. I was focused and ready to try my best to see just how far I could get in this game as well as see just how fun and challenging it was. When the game first came in my Cousin Stephen Alexander and myself played it and found that it was super hard, but we were not fully trying like I am today so let me tell you about my time playing this game. As Gizmo I started my mission on top of building and was only armed with baseballs that had to throw at some dogs we want to throw me off the building! Once inside one of the buildings you must dodge not only Gremlins but also security cameras that hurt you when you’re spotted. The game is very challenging and I spent lots of time trying to get into the building as the two crates that I was suppose to stack and climb did not want to cooperate with me on this day. And Once inside I did pretty well dodging the cameras and Gremlins and played for about an hour or so when something really annoying happened…the controller just stopped working! I tried unplugging it and putting it back in but sadly nothing helped and this cut my game playing a little short, but damn what I was able to play was lots of fun and well worth the buy and I really do look forward to playing all the way through soon! So if you like classic 8-Bit games and enjoy Gremlins make sure to check out Pacnsacdaves Etsy shop and get your self a copy of this fun and challenging game.

Gremlins for the NES in a RESGremlins NES Screen ShotGremlins for the NES Case

It’s time for the review part of this update and with the chill in the air I think we should all take a moment and grab a mug of hot chocolate or even eggnog and while at it a few Christmas cookies, as I feel it’s the right time to do so! But remember if your reading this after Midnight do not give any cookies to your pet Mogwai! I want to thank Amazon for having this comic in stock and Gizmo is telling me to remind you 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, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to also share with you that when I was a kid I had this Golden Book comic adaptation of Gremlins and at some point over time it was gotten ride of and I thought I imagined that a comic of Gremlins was made when I was 36 and later this year after digging around the internet I found that it was not just in my mind and my memories of art from it was real! So I am really looking forward to re-reading this again and sharing it with you my Friends and Readers this on this special Holiday update. So I hope you have your drink of choice in hand and have Gremlin insurance as its time to unleash Stripe and his band of mean spirited Gremlins!

Gremlins 1 Golden Book

Gremlins # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price $2.95   Golden Book   # 1 of 1

Rand Peltzer is a inventor who is one business trying to sell his new invention called the Bathroom Buddy when he stumbles onto a shop while looking for a gift for his son, the shop is filled with strange items and is run by an old Asian man and his grandson that owns a little creature called a Mogwai that Rand tries to buy but is shot down by the old man. After leaving the grandson tracks down Rand and sells him the Mogwai and tells him the three rules of the creature. The rules are simple no sun light, no water and do not feed it after midnight. Meanwhile in Kingston Falls Billy Peltzer’s car will not start so he and his trusty dog Barney have to walk to work and while doing so saves a cat from being hit by a car that belongs to the town’s snotty old lady named Mrs. Deagle who after Billy leaves she discovers her snowman destroyed and she comes to his work and lets him have it in front of everyone. Billy after work visits Kate a co-worker from the bank he works at, who is also working for a small bar and returns home just in time as his father Rand is coming back and gets his gift the Mogwai he names Gizmo. While visiting to drop of a Christmas Tree Billy’s young friend Pete by accident spills water on Gizmo that causes him to spawn more Mogwai’s who are more mean spirited than Gizmo who they pick on as well as Barney! The next day Rand takes Barney to the Grandparents house and Billy takes a Mogwai to Mr. Hanson who is going to study the creature. But things quickly get worse when the Mogwai’s all eat after midnight and turn into eggs that hatch and unleash mean little creatures known as Gremlins! One with a Mohawk named Stripe kills Mr. Henson and Billy’s Mom is even attacked and must fight for her life against a house full of the Gremlins. After Billy saves his mom he and Gizmo go on a hunt to try and kill all the remaining Gremlins but by accident in the local YMCA thanks to Gizmo armed with a flashlight Stripe falls into the pool and spawns a heck of a lot more Gremlins! Now the town is under attack and this leaves many of the citizens of Kingston Falls dead including Billy’s boss at the bank, his neighbors the Futtermans and Mrs. Deagle! Billy saves Kate who is being swarmed by Gremlins at the bar and along with Gizmo they set up and kill all the Gremlins at the local movie theater by blowing it up! But what they thought was the end of this crisis soon turns into a war as Stripe is still alive and hiding out at the department store and while Kate and Gizmo hide in the main office Billy goes in armed with a baseball bat to defeat Stripe who is using buzz saw blades and bow & arrows to take down Billy, but thanks to his dad Rand and dog Barney his life is spared just in time. In the end as Kate turns on all the store lights Stripe heads to the home and garden area and jumps into the water fountain to spawn more of his kind, but thanks to Gizmo he takes down the tarps covering the window and allows sunlight in and this kills Stripe. That night at the Peltzer house Billy, his parents, Kate, Barney and Gizmo are all together, as the old shop keeper shows up and takes Gizmo back and walks away into the night with his Mogwai, as Billy misses his friend but knows he had to leave.

This adaptation is very kid friendly and tones down the violence and adds bigger panels with large text to allow an easier read for youngsters. The story is intact for the most part but is a little rushed but the plot is still young Billy gets a new pet called a Mogwai and by not following the rules it spawns and his clones turn into evil Gremlins that torment the small town and Billy must man up and along with his true love and his pet Mogwai must stop the invasion. Billy Peltzer is a good young man who is trying his best in the small town he lives in, he loves a girl whom he as crushed on for years, he works a bank job that he don’t fit in at and has his bosses always run him down the road for minor things like the fact he wears clip on ties! But Billy really is a good guy and when the town starts to go to hell he is the one who stands up and takes the fight to the Gremlins and rids the town of their evil ways. Rand and Lynn Peltzer are good parents who love their son and are trying to just get by, while Rand means well with is invention they just don’t work and they are not paying the bills as their home is about to be foreclosed on. But like their son when things go bad they fight back against the Gremlins and try to do their part in ridding the town of them. Kate Beringer is a sweet, attractive and big hearted young lady who does what’s right and clearly is the girl next door who every guy crushes on. Gizmo is also a very nice Mogwai who is well behaved and knows the rules himself of his species and quickly turns from a pet to a member of the Peltzer family, plus in the end to win the final fight he puts his own life on the line to save Billy’s and the towns. The Gremlins are mean spirited and get joy in hurting and killing and in a short time causes so mush problems in the small town that it’s like a bomb was dropped. Stripe is the leader of the Gremlins and is the most evil one of them as he really enjoys killing and wants nothing more than to be cruel and destroy all that’s around him. Side characters like the Futtermans, Mrs. Deagle and Pete all serve their purposes and add some great background characters and in some cases victims. Some major changes from the film to comic is these things No depressing story from Kate about her father dying, the deaths of characters are toned down and less impactful and many of the funny Gremlin characters are missing and besides Stripe they all look the same. The cover for this comic is ok but not really that eye catching as its just a movie still of Kate, Billy and Gizmo placed below a cream colored box that has the Gremlins logo as well as the Golden Book one and the price. The art in side is pretty well done with none of the characters looking like the actors from the film, but the Gremlins and Mogwai look really good. The art is done by Adrian Gonzales who is know for his work on comics like Arak Son Of Thunder and World’s Finest Comics for DC. The best part about reading this comic is the fact that while doing so many of the art panels came back to my memory from when I owned this as a kid and a real sense of nostalgia swept over me. Over all this is not amazing as it does feel rushed and watered down, but it is good and well worth reading for fans of the film and I would say that I am glad to have it in my collection. Check out some art work from this comic below to see the style of Gonzales.

Gremlins Golden Book Art 1Gremlins Golden Book Art 2Gremlins Golden Book Art 3

Ok now that the comic review is over and you know the twists and turns of the story if your new to the world of Gremlins I can talk about a scene from the movie that was super brutal and reminded me of Dracula’s death by the sun in the Hammer Horror film “Horror Of Dracula” and of course I am talking the death of Stripe in the water fountain via the sun! I mean when first watching that movie as a youngster my jaw dropped when Gizmo opens the blinds in the home and garden area and the suns rays hit the body of Stripe causing him to jerk around and melt into a puddle of slime and ooze! At one point Stripe turns into a skeleton and even his bones bubble and melt away, I am sure if you seen this movie as a kid you remember just how brutal this death scene is in a kids film! While Stripe was the most evil of all the Gremlins he in fact meets his end the worst of anyone or thing in the film. But I don’t want to give you to much nightmare fuel this Christmas Eve so all I will say is the death of Stripe I am sure has scarred many of you readers and below is some pictures from his gross death!

Gremlins Death of Stripe 1gremlins22Gremlins Death of Stripe 2

Wow this was lots of fun talking about Gremlins as it really is one of many of my favorite films of the 80’s and is something that for sure has it’s place here at Rotten Ink thanks to Golden Books who made this fun adaptation in 1984. So with Santa coming soon and the Christmas Tree lights glowing I want to say I hope you all have a great Christmas that is spent with loved ones, great food and gifts as that is what mine will be like as I plan on spending the day with my parents and girlfriend Juliet. Our next update will be my top films of 2016, something that we do every year…and wow it’s almost 2017 a year that is packed with many great films including a new Halloween film! So until then have a safe and fun Holiday season, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, see you next year.

Films of 2016 Preview Logo

Flash Gordon Savior Of The Comic Universe!

ROTTEN….INNNKKK….Savior of the Blog-verse! Yeah, I know that was super lame and not very clever, but this winter seemed like a good time to do a terrible parody of a classic Queen song as it fits today’s update as we take a look at the 1980 film Flash Gordon and the Whitman Comic adaptation.  It’s pretty great adventure stuff to get the blood pumping this cold winter night! Can you believe we are this close to Christmas and our huge Christmas Eve update? This time of the year is always wonderful, looking back at things from your youth and fun times with family and friends, and that’s why I choose Flash Gordon as the film and character this time around.  It’s something that always brings back good memories of when I was a kid. When we were young, my parents had a Beta player and this is how I first saw Flash Gordon as my Dad rented it from the video store for me and my brother.  From start to finish I can remember we both were glued to it.  Later, when it would showed on cable like HBO or Showtime, we taped it and would dust it off from time to time. I can also remember using our G.I. Joes and Star Wars figures to play Flash Gordon as figures based on this movie were never made in my youth. I miss those days of going to the video rental store with my parents and picking out a couple of films for us all to watch on a family movie night.  I have one funny story about a Troma movie that was rented for the kids that I will share in an update in the future. So get your space suit on and bundle up as space is even colder than this winter night, and we’ll go on an adventure with the one and only Flash Gordon.  Oh yeah, make sure to also bring a blanket, some hot chocolate mix or even some hot tea as the chill in the air will make them a must.

1980 Flash Gordon 1

In 1980 an epic science fiction film was released by Universal and was slated to be the next mega hit in the genre like Star Wars before it.  Best of all, the film was based on a character who already had a built in audience as he had comic strips, comic books, radio dramas, novels, movie serials and toys based around him so by this point Flash Gordon was a household name.  So why didn’t it overthrow Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back as the # 1 film of 1980? Flash Gordon ended up at # 23 bringing in $27,107,960.00 on a budget of $20 million, beating out such cult films as The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, The Fog, Mad Max, Prom Night, Motel Hell and The Gong Show Movie. I think some of the issue started with the production of the film as the rights owner for Gordon in films was famed producer Dino De Laurentiis who, in the 70s, turned down George Lucas who wanted to make a Flash Gordon film.  This sparked Lucas to make Star Wars.  Meanwhile De Laurentiis wanted to make his version of Flash Gordon cheesy and humorous, and this angered Sergio Leone, who was slated to direct, as he wanted it to be more faithful to the comic strip. But after many setbacks, a director was found in Mike Hodges, and casting started with Sam J. Jones playing Flash Gordon, Melody Anderson as Dale Arden, Chaim Topol as Dr. Zarkov and Max von Sydow as Ming The Merciless, all of whom were wise choices for their roles.  But once more, late in production drama reared its ugly head again and fights between De Laurentiis and Jones left the actor leaving prior to post production forcing lots of his dialogue to be dubbed by a voice actor.  This drama also lead to a sequel never being made. But in 2015 rumors began going around that a reboot sequel might be in the works and that Sam J. Jones might be returning in the role of Flash! So what do you readers think, should they make a Flash Gordon 2 with Sam J. Jones returning in the title role or do you think a remake is the wiser choice?

1980 Flash Gordon 21980 Flash Gordon poster1980 Flash Gordon 3

The soundtrack to Flash Gordon is fantastic with the score being done by Howard Blake and the rest being done by the amazing band Queen! While the score is mostly forgotten, the song “Flash Gordon” by Queen is the first thing that pops into the people’s minds when hearing the characters name…you know at least a handful of times you yourself have done it while reading this update. That’s one thing the film always had going for it, the soundtrack was a popular album for people of the 80’s to have in their collection of vinyl and cassettes. Queen always did make amazing rock n roll music, and their work for Flash Gordon showed that they could also make the music of the movies and will always rank up as one of the most catchy theme songs for any science fiction characters. And for those wondering, I do play the score music from Blake on WYSO from time to time.

1980 Flash Gordon Queen SoundtrackQueen (Band)1980 Flash Gordon Score soundtrack

As I have stated, growing up me and my brother were fans of the film, and I would have loved if some company like Kenner or Remco would have made 3 ¾” figures based on this film as it would have been epic while playing Star Wars if Flash Gordon showed up and Princess Leia fell in love with this hero jock and he and Han Solo had to fight it out to win her heart. But in 2015, thanks to collectible website “Entertainment Earth” and toy company “BifBang Pow!” a series of figures was made. They released four figures this size that include Flash Gordon, Ming, Aura, Vultan and Barin, and each come with weapons and bendable knees and elbows. When I was just a youngster, the only things that I can remember that were released was a video game, the comic adaptation, the novel based on the film and the soundtrack. So for those youngsters reading this, and those young at heart, if you buy these Flash Gordon 3 ¾” action figures make sure to have them mix with your Star Wars toys as well as your Funco ReAction figures and have one hell of an epic Toy War!

1980 Flash Gordon toy 11980 Flash Gordon toy 21980 Flash Gordon toy 3

While we might not have gotten action figures, 20th Century Fox Games did release a video game based on the film for the Atari 2600 for all the fans to enjoy in 1983, but like most movie tie-in games, this one really had nothing to do with the movie and was in fact originally not even a Flash Gordon game as it was really just a redone port of a game called “Spider City” that was a popular PC Game in the early 80’s. But in this version you play as Flash Gordon who has entered Spider City to rescue missing spacemen and to destroy all the hatching spider pods. You of course are flying a ship, and by beating levels, the game will give you an extra life.  The graphics are what you would expect from an Atari 2600 game. The first time I learned about this game was in 2009 when Game Swap Kettering was stocking the store, and one of the Atari games in the box was Flash Gordon and of course I had to buy it and play it.  While very cheesy, it still was fun play and something that fans of classic gaming should try. Check out below for a screen shot of the game as well as the cover box front and back, and all you old school gamers who grew up playing this understand just how fun this and so many other Atari games can be.

1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 Cover1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 screen1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 back cover

So we have taken a look at Flash Gordon the Movie, the soundtrack, the video game and the toys, and now I think it’s time that we all climb aboard the Whitman Comic Rocket and travel to Movie Adaptation Land and see just how well this one holds up to the film. I want to thank Jason Young and his Mom for selling me these issues in a long box buy and must remind all you readers and astronauts that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, let’s prepare for lift off! I should also note that the adaptation was placed many issues into the long running Flash Gordon comic series put out by Gold Key and Whitman so that’s why the numbering is high on these issues. So it’s take off time, get ready to have a fun adventure with Flash Gordon and friends.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 1

Flash Gordon # 31  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 31 of 37

Flash Gordon is a football player for the New York Jets and is on a plane with Dale Arden when their plane goes down and lands near a greenhouse where by gunpoint they are forced onto a spaceship and into orbit by Dr. Zarkov who believes that they all must stop an alien attack that he thinks is forcing Earth’s moon to crash into the planet killing everyone.  He wants to find and stop the mastermind behind it. In space, the three pass out and are swept into a black hole and end up landing in the Mongo Kingdom run by Ming The Merciless along with his daughter Princess Aura and his golden metal masked adviser General Klytus.  This is bad news as Ming wants Dale as his slave, Aura wants Flash as her slave, and Klytus wants all three Earthlings dead! Flash does not stand for this and fights with the guards, but all this does is give him a one-way ticket to a public execution that very night! Flash is given a shot and then gassed and is believed to be dead, but in reality Princess Aura changed the shot that let her new man live and uses her boyfriend’s (Prince Barin of the Treemen) planet as a hiding place for Flash. Meanwhile Ming has taken Dale as his own and has ordered Zarkov’s mind to be taken over and turned into a slave! But thanks to Aura’s crown, Flash is able to contact Dale and tell her he is alive.  This causes her to escape Ming’s bedroom and start her escape and saving of Zarkov.

This comic adaptation does a good job of compacting the film into comic pages and moves the pace along really well! So far the story is the set up and has Flash, Dale and Zarkov traveling to space and crash landing on Mongo, the planet of galaxy warlord Ming, and finding out they are just pawns in his twisted game to destroy Earth. The comic has action, adventure, drama and romance as all these things were tangled together in ink and paper. Flash Gordon starts out as a hero jock who wins the attention of a young woman he is next to on a plane, but quickly turns into a hero as he is a prideful man who would clearly die to protect his new friends. Flash also has a charm as both Dale and Aura fall in love with him just by seeing him.  I wonder if it’s because he is a pro football player who has money or if it’s his chiseled good looks? We also learn he is good at fist fighting as he handles many guards at once and seems to know how to defend himself. Dale Arden seems like a normal young woman who, when survival is on the line, will fight back and not just roll over and die. It’s also clear that Dale fell in love with Flash Gordon at first sight and that she will not be Ming’s love slave without putting up a fight. Dr. Zarkov is a crazed old man who’s outlandish behavior got him banned from NASA and his way of getting help on his rocket ship is to pull a gun on people who just survived a plane crash. It’s odd as both Flash and Dale seem to forgive him pretty fast and even look to him as a friend.  Even more crazy is they would not be in the danger they are in if not for his crazy gun pulling ways. To be fair though, Dr. Zarkov did do all this to save Earth from doom that would be coming from the sky. Ming The Merciless is cold blooded, and life and death do not matter, as in his mind all that does is his rule over all. I think Ming is a great villain as he tries to murder outsiders on sight, forces women to be his love slaves and rules his Kingdom with such an iron fist that other planets are scared to feel his wrath. Princess Aura is a mystery at this point as she is a man-eater who clearly uses men to get what she wants but also seems to not enjoy her father’s wicked ways. General Klytus is clearly a man who loves to place judgment and punishment on anyone he feels is a threat to Ming and his rule. We don’t get much background on Prince Barin besides he loves Aura, and he is the leader of the Treemen. The winged leader Vultan of the Hawkmen is also around but is not given anything to make a judgment of his character. The cover is your typical cheesy photo collage mixed with art design that Whitman and Goldkey Comic used on most their adaptations, but the inside art is fantastic and done by Flash Gordon comic series artist Al Williamson who is an underrated artist who captures science fiction elements really well. This is a great start as on this cold day; I really enjoyed this first issue in the adaptation and I am really looking forward to seeing what issue 2 has contained.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 2

Flash Gordon # 32  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 32 of 37

While escaping, Dale Arden runs into Dr. Zarkov who claims that his mind could not be beaten into being blanked, and the pair board a ship and try to leave only to be captured by the Hawkpeople lead by Vultan.  They are about to deliver them back to Ming when Dale begs him to join forces with Flash Gordon, who still lives, and the Treemen to overthrow Ming who is they all hate. Meanwhile Klytus has heard that Gordon is alive and warns Ming who has his daughter who has returned home arrested and tortured in order to find were she has left Flash. Flash himself is being tormented and set up to be murdered by Prince Barin, who is jealous that Aura has fallen for the Earthman. During the fight, the Hawkmen attack and take both Flash Gordon and Prince Barin prisoner as Vultan is not going for an alliance against Ming and is delivering them all to the evil ruler. Prince Barin as a royal can challenge a duel before sentenced and picks Flash Gordon, and the two fight on a circle that has spikes. Flash wins and saves Barin from falling off the circle as Klytus arrives on the ship and demands all the prisoners come with him and this sets Flash off and he slams Klytus onto the circle of spikes killing him! Vultan and the Hawkmen fly away as they fear the wrath of Ming who now has shown up and has Dale, Barin and Zarkov taken to his castle, and after Flash refuses an offer from Ming to join his side our hero is left on the ship that is now blowing up.

Flash Gordon steps up his game and not only passes the Treemen’s log test that has a poisons beast inside it, but he also beats Barin in a duel to the death as well as murders Klytus by slamming him down on spikes! Flash didn’t even blink as he slammed a living person onto spikes, killing him in a terrible painful way. But to be fair, the man who he killed was Klytus, the evil right hand man of Ming who looks like he took fashion tips from Dr. Doom and had sent a number of people to their deaths. This second issue covers Flash fighting the odds and yet still some how turning the negatives into positives and starting an uprising against the rule of Ming. It’s great as Ming even mentions that his subjects are starting to talk about this man named Flash Gordon who has beaten all the odds. Ming The Merciless in this issue tries his best to corrupt Flash, and when he can’t, he wants him dead, not to mention he also is ok with the torture of his daughter as he is pissed she disobeyed his wish of having Flash killed. Ming is also claiming Dale as his future wife and adds forced love to his evil deeds. Prince Barin is a jerk who comes around once he finds that Flash is a good man.  Vultan comes off as a coward and a lackey for Ming as Dale and Zarkov take a backseat and are just prisoners who are the driving force for Flash Gordon to fight and do the right thing to save them and the Earth. The cover is another photo collage/art mix and is cheesy good as the art inside is Al Williamson again who is doing a great job at capturing the looks of the actors as well as his backgrounds are really well done. This second issue is as good as the first.  Coming up is the final in this adaptation, and I for one am enjoying every page.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 3

Flash Gordon # 33  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 33 of 37

Flash Gordon escapes the blown up ship on a tiny glider and is able to contact Vultan and the Hawkpeople who now are on the side of good and set up one of Ming’s warships that they take over. Meanwhile Ming has set his wedding to Dale for that night and is forcing his daughter Aura to be the Maid of Honor and is going to kill Zarkov and Barin live for entertainment! Aura sneaks away and frees Barin and Zarkov from the prison, and the two flee into some tunnels. Flash, Vultan and the Hawkmen bring the fight to Ming’s kingdom.  As Dale is being forced to marry Ming, the Earth is also on a path to doom as in only six minutes the moon will crash into the planet causing earthquakes and tidal waves. Flash crashes the ship into Ming’s castle and impales the evil ruler with the tip on the ship.  Ming however does not die and Flash rushes him with a sword in hand as Ming turns his own power ring on himself ending is reign of terror. In the end Aura and Barin take over ruling Mongo, Vultan takes the job of royal guard commander and Dale, Zarkov and Flash stay on Mongo as they do not have a ride home.

The doomsday clock was almost at 12 for Earth, but thanks to the heroic act of Flash Gordon and his allies, we are all safe for the time being. The plot of this issue is this simple: Ming is having a shotgun wedding, Flash has brought people together to fight the power and in the end, good clashes with evil and as always, good wins. Flash Gordon once more proves how loyal and brave he is, as he takes his own life in his hands and crashes a ship into a castle that had a force field around it and was only saved by Barin who blasted the controls with a pistol. But what Flash did to save the Earth as well as Dale shows you that he is a real hero who puts the needs of others before his own. Dale and Dr. Zarkov do what they can to help with Zarkov trying to help turn off the force field and Dale bides them time to attack. Glad to see Vultan and the Hawkmen turn from cowards to right doers as they join the forces to bring Ming’s evil rule to an end. Prince Barin wins the most as he gets not only Ming’s hot daughter Aura, but he also gets to rule the planet! Ming does not put up much of a fight as after he has the ships front needle impale him, he then would rather zap himself with his own ring than to fight Flash Gordon. I always wished Ming would have been a more badass villain like Darth Vader in Star Wars in this film and comic as an epic fight between Flash and him could have been a major movie moment of the 80’s. I think what really make this comic adaptation work is that it feels like a grand space adventure that you’re on with an iconic character that is allowing you to tag along on. The comic does a pretty good job of working the movie into comic pages but like most adaptations, some of it feels very rushed with elements missing. One par that is removed is the silly comedy moments of the film and in its place are more serious action moments. The cover is like the others, and Al Williamson’s art is classic and captures the feel of not only the movie but Flash Gordon altogether. If you’re a fan of this movie or even just enjoy a good Flash Gordon story, I would say check out these issues as well as the rest in this comic series as they are a fun read and can hold you over till Gordon’s next big screen film hits your local cinema. Below is a piece of art from Williamson that I think showcases everything that this comic has to offer, so take a look at it and enjoy.

Flash Gordon 1980 Comic Art 1

So yeah, Flash Gordon,, the film from 1980 as well as the comic adaptation of it are great ways to be entertained, and those of you who didn’t like the humor of the movie should check out this comic adaptation as it’s all the action elements. I really do miss the old movie adaptations from companies like Marvel, DC, Whitman and Dell as they always seemed like having something a little extra on the movie or even TV Shows they were based on. But it’s now time to reveal what our Christmas Eve update will be about.  We will be leaving the Mongo Kingdom and instead enter Kingston Falls as we take a look at “Gremlins” and the Golden Book comic adaptation based around this iconic movie that was one of my all time favorites in youth! So until then, be safe this winter, spend some time with your loved ones, read a comic or three and make sure to return on Christmas Eve to spend some time with Gizmo and all his friends.  See you all then!

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The Universal Dracula: Blood Drive Countdown To Halloween

I Bid You Welcome! The moon is full, and we are at our third update in our countdown to Halloween.  A thick mist is covering the ground as we all wait for the carriage of Count Dracula to take us to his castle. This is an update that I have been looking forward to since I started Rotten Ink over three years ago.  As all you long time readers know, I grew up a Monster Kid and loved everything Universal Monsters. Not only did I have such things as a Christmas themed Frankenstein Monster t-shirt and VHS tapes of many of my favorite monsters, I also spent much of my time drawing pictures of Dracula and all of his Universal pals in art class and at home. This update I get to cover one of the true icons of Universal Monsters, the one who brought the studio back from approaching closed doors after having too many films that did not perform at the box office, a character that also brought Universal into the monster movie business again and proved that horror was a hit with moviegoers. I am of course talking about the 1931 masterpiece Dracula.  For this update we will be taking a look at not just the film and it’s Spanish counterpart, but also Universal Dracula in merchandise, culture, my connection to the film and the main attraction will be the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of this classic flick.  So let’s wait here at Borgo Pass for our ride to Castle Dracula and chat about Universal Dracula in film, comics, toys and more. And to be safe, if you believe the rumors about Count Dracula, you might want to wear those cloves of garlic around your neck!

Dracula 1931 Poster 0

Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was a hit when it was released in 1897, and in 1922 filmmaker F.W. Murnau made his silent masterpiece “Nosferatu” based around the book.  He did not, however, get permission to do so and he was sued and all prints of his film ordered to be destroyed. Lucky for us some prints of the film did survive but that’s for another update based on the comic adaptation of the film and the series that followed. During that time a young film producer named Carl Laemmle Jr. bought the film rights and wanted to make a silent monster movie that would follow in the footsteps of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom Of The Opera (1925) and wanted to use the script from the stage play, that was a huge hit on Broadway, and even Nosferatu for inspiration to bring his version to the silver screen that would not be a silent film but now a talkie. While casting Laemmie passed on stage actor Bela Lugosi who was the talk of the town for his performance of Dracula on the stage and talked to actors like John Wray, Ian Keith and Paul Muni, while the films Director Tod Browning wanted to cast Lon Chaney Sr., but sadly Chaney passed away from cancer before the film’s production started. Lugosi lobbied hard and tried all he could to get the role he felt he was born to play not only on stage but also on the big screen and finally won over Universal and the executives when he took the small pay of $500.00 a week for seven weeks of work. The production of the film was slightly disorganized as director Tod Browning was not fully behind the film and at times would even leave the set and have his cinematographer Karl Freund take over shooting and directing scenes.  You see, at the time of this film Universal had gotten away from making horror films as they thought it was beneath them as a company, but after some shake up from inside the company, horror films were back on the slate but not taken too seriously as the company had major financial issues.  In my opinion, that is why Browning didn’t take this film as seriously as he should have because he looked at it as a low budget throw away film. The film had its premiere at the Roxy Theatre in New York on February 12, 1931, and as part of its marketing Universal reported that people fainted while watching the film.  This helped the big buzz for Dracula when it opened wide two days later. Dracula was a gamble for the studio but proved to be a risk worth taking as it was a major hit and bringing in the highest profit for them in 1931 as it did better than any of their other films released that year. The film received mixed reviews with most being positive and some negatives with complaints that it wasn’t too scary and comparing it to the stage version.  But most all agreed that Bela Lugosi was fantastic as Count Dracula. I don’t want to get into the film’s plot as I feel that the Dark Horse Comic adaptation we will be reviewing will take care of that.  Instead I would like to talk briefly about the first time I saw Dracula.  The Christmas after the one that we first got our VCR, my brother Bryan bought me Dracula as a gift.  I was pretty excited to see it, as the year before, my parents got me Frankenstein and my love for Universal Monsters was at an all time high! Like before, after the Brassfield side of the family came and went from our house in Waynesville, we sat down as a family and watched it, and I was hooked and loved every second of it. Bela Lugosi, who I had drawn pictures of for years as Dracula, crept his way into my brain and became the true Count Dracula in my eyes. Dwight Frye, who played Renfield, a sad one-time sane man who becomes Dracula’s bug eating slave, is fantastic.  Edward Van Sloan plays a cool and wise Van Helsing, while Helen Chandler was stunning and well cast as Mina Seward, the woman who captures Dracula’s eye. So before we move on, I want to give a big thanks to my brother Bryan for getting me that VHS tape all those years back and allowing me to see the film that inspired monster kids for generations.

Dracula 1931 Still 1Dracula 1931 VHSDracula 1931 Still 2

In 1931, at the same time as the Browning production of Dracula, Universal was filming a Spanish language version, rolling at night after the American production wrapped for the evening, that was directed by George Melford and starred Carlos Villarias as Count Dracula.  The cast and crew had the lucky advantage of watching the dailies from the American production before they would film and would try to one up them with better lighting, angles and acting as they wanted to be the better of the two productions. While the two films are very similar and both filmed using the same script, the Spanish Dracula changed things up and tried to make scenes more creepy for the time and was able to push the “sex appeal” up a notch by allowing their actress, Lupita Tovar, to wear more risque clothing as she played Eva who took the place of Mina in this version. This version of this film was also a hit with moviegoers of the 30’s and chilled the bones of those who watched it. But over time, the film became lost and a print of the movie would not be found until the 1970’s when it was restored so that a new generation of horror fans could enjoy it. Many critics and fans think that the Spanish version is better than the American version, and while it’s fantastic, I still find the Lugosi version of Dracula to be the better of the two.

Spanish Dracula 1931 Still 1Spanish Dracula 1931 VHSSpanish Dracula 1931 Still 2

After the runaway success of both Dracula and Frankenstein, Universal decided to make sequels to those films and poof! franchises were made. Dracula’s Daughter was the first sequel and came out in 1936.  It follows Countess Marya Zaleska, who is Count Dracula’s Daughter, who wants to be cured of her vampire ways..or does she? The next sequel, in 1943, had Lon Chaney Jr. as Count Alucard and was called Son Of Dracula. Count Dracula would go on to make appearances in both House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula for Universal that would combine all their classic monsters into the films.  In these two films, the part of Dracula was played by John Carradine. Bela Lugosi would play the role of Count Dracula again for Universal in 1948 in the horror comedy film Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  This sadly would make the second and last time Lugosi would play the role in the movies. In 1979, Universal made a “remake” of Dracula that starred Frank Langella as Dracula and was a nice update to the film series. I would love to get more into films like Dracula’s Daughter and Son Of Dracula, but at some point in time I want to have some one of a kind comics made based on those films so I will hold off talking too much about them.  I really enjoyed each of the films I mentioned above and have spent countless hours watching them over the years and have owned them on VHS and DVD.

Draculas Daughter VHSSon Of Dracula VHSDracula Remake VHS

Bela Lugosi, who’s real name was Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko, was born on October 20, 1882 in Lugos, a small town in the Kingdom of Hungary (now Lugo, Romania) and was the youngest of four children. By the age of 12, he dropped out of school and got into acting and by 1903 had roles in many local plays, not only having small roles but also major ones which him to getting great roles in Shakespeare plays. In 1911, he moved to Budapest and had a long a great run in many theater performances.  Lugosi would claim he was the leading actor of Hungary’s Royal National Theatre, but many factors go against his claim. From 1914 to 1919, Lugosi was an infantryman in the Austro-Hungarian Army and during World War I he was ranked Captain of the ski patrol and was wounded during combat and awarded medals for his service for his country. During this time, Bela also was taking on many roles in Hungarian films like The Colonel and The Caravan Of Death. During the 1919 revolution of Hungary, he was forced to flee his homeland when the actors union went crazy causing many actors to find work elsewhere.  This lead Bela to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1920 and also lead to him using the last name Lugosi in honor of his birthplace Lugos. Bela Lugosi moved to New York and by 1931 became naturalized as an American citizen. While in New York, he and other immigrant actors formed a stock company and entertained fellow immigrants with small production plays, with his first English Broadway play being the 1922 production of The Red Poppy and soon after The Devil In The Cheese, a comedy fantasy play as well as many other theater productions. His first American movie role came in 1923 for the film The Silent Command and this lead to many more roles in silent films cast mostly as the villain. His big break in Hollywood came after he wowed audiences with his portrayal of Count Dracula in the play Dracula that lead to him getting the role in the 1931 Universal Monster classic Dracula! This sparked him to be asked to play Frankenstein’s Monster in the Universal film Frankenstein but Bela turned it down as he felt that the part was not acting and just grunts and thus beneath his talents…or so rumor goes. Many more amazing horror film roles followed as Bela starred in White Zombie, Murders In The Rue Morgue, The Raven, Son Of Frankenstein, The Black Cat, Ghost Of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man and Black Friday to name a few. His role as Ygor in Son of Frankenstein is looked at as one of his finest roles by many horror fans. But Bela would not stay on top of the horror world forever as his addiction to opiates and his box office appeal was slipping.  This lead to him taking roles in many B-movies like such titles as Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, The Ape Man, Return Of The Vampire, Voodoo Man, Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla and The Black Sleep. During his decline, he started taking roles in a young filmmaker named Ed Wood Jr’s film like Glen or Glenda and Bride Of The Monster.  His final film appearance was in Plan 9 From Outer Space as old stock footage Wood shot was added into the film. Bela was able to get off the drugs before his death in 1956 at the age of 73 from a heart attack, and he was buried wearing one of his Dracula capes. Bela Lugosi remains one of my favorite horror actors of all time and his work lives on to frighten and entertain a new generation of Monster Kids.

Bela Lugosi 0Bela Lugosi as Dracula

Carlos Villarias was born on July 7, 1892 in Cordoba, Spain and was acting in his first movie in 1917 with the Spanish film “El Pobre Valbuena” and would star in many more Spanish productions throughout the 1930’s.  In 1931, he landed the role he was best known for, the Spanish version of Dracula for Universal. He continued to make movies for many years that followed and had roles in films like “The Mystery Of The Ghastly Face”, “Nostradamus”, “Tropic Holiday” and “The House Of The Fox” to name a few. His final film was in 1953 in a film called “Decameron Nights”. Carlos passed away in 1976 at the age of 83. While he might not be as well known as Bela Lugosi to horror fans, his acting and portrayal of Count Dracula for the Spanish market is amazing, and I am sure he chilled the bones of all those who watched him in the role back in 1931. I just wanted to touch on Carlos Villarias’s life as he is just as important to the Universal Dracula history as Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning and everyone else on the crew that made this movie come alive.

24482625_120291616966villarias

Don Post is considered the godfather of Halloween by many and made some of the worlds first latex masks.  He also attached himself to makings masks based on some of Hollywood’s top ghouls and monsters from The Wolf Man to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and of course he made several based on Dracula; the most important ones were based on the likeness of Bela Lugosi’s portrayal for Universal. Growing up, I can remember old ads in and on the back cover for Famous Monsters Magazine that acted as an order form to buy this classic mask. I always wondered why Dracula’s skin is green and also marveled about just how awesome the ad made the mask seem, and ideas of wanting the mask to run around my neighborhood would spring into my brain. Years later I would get to see the mask in person at the Magic Hat, a store on Brown Street, and while a great looking mask, it did not live up to the epicness of the ad. Check out the ad picture below and try not to be tranced by its latex greatness!

Don Post Dracula Halloween Mask

In 1963, Hasbro unleashed a board game to masses called “Dracula Mystery Game.”  It would allow 2-4 players to kill time and chill their bones with the horror of Dracula. The plot of the game has you and the other players rolling dice trying to avoid Dracula who wants you dead! I own this game, but sadly when I bought it from my friend David J. Getz it was missing the Dracula pawn piece, making it so that we in the Dayton Board Game Society never played it during a meeting. The game is pretty pricey and on Ebay, depending on condition, can go form any were from $20.00 – $300.00! So if you like cheesy board games, try and track this one down and give it a play for a spooky good time.

Dracula Mystery Game BoardDracula Mystery Board GameDracula Mystery Game pawn

Back in the 1960’s, kids loved to put together and paint models.  For Monster Kids, the ones everyone wanted were the 1962 Aurora Monsters, and one of the most popular ones in that line had to be Count Dracula.  The Dracula model had a Bela Lugosi looking Dracula standing in a stone and grass field next to a dead tree that houses bats. When I was a very young kid and living in Waynesville, I had one of the Dracula model kits but only the Dracula piece that was unpainted as my Mom got it for me from a garage sale. I can remember setting it up on a shelf next to Wizard of Oz dolls I had and always wishing it was an action figure and not a model. Nowadays I have seen the original model kit at many antique malls for around $30.00 – $50.00, depending on how complete it is as well as how poorly it was painted and on Ebay I have seen them go for around $10.00 to $250.00, once more depending on condition and paint job. I wish I sill had my old Aurora Dracula Model Kit, but sadly he is gone in time.

Aurora Dracula boxAurora Dracula model

In 1964, Palmer Plastics released 3” PVC mini figures based on monsters from horror movies as well as science fiction ones. And of course one of the figures released was based on the Universal Dracula. The figure was crudely designed and would come in many colors and would be sold in a three pack or even singly, all for a super cheap price. I sadly never had a Palmer Dracula, but they can be found time to time on Ebay and go for around $20.00 to $60.00 on average.

Palmer Dracula Figure

Remco was a classic toy company who, in 1980, made a deal with Universal to make action figures of their monsters, and of course Dracula was in the line. They made two styles; the first was 9” doll that had cloth clothes with movable limbs.  The Dracula one was very cool but looked nothing like Bela Lugosi. I can remember seeing this figure at flea markets and antique stores, but even loose it always carried a high price tag that my mom would not spend in order to get it for us. To this day, I do not own one but do however own Frankenstein’s Monster thanks to my friend David J. Getz. In 1981, they then released the 3 3/4” action figure versions of the Universal Monsters, and Dracula of course graced this line with his blood drinking presence. These figures were the size of Star Wars and were ones in our youth we so badly wanted but never could find them at garage sales nor flea markets. The Dracula figure’s face glowed in the dark, and he came complete with a vinyl cape.  The downside of these figures was the fact the paint chipped off very easily, and poor Dracula’s nose always had a bare spot as did his fingers. While I never did own one of these figures in my youth, a few years back for my birthday my friend Jason Young gave me almost the full run of the figures as well as the Lab playset! And yep, the Dracula had paint missing on his nose and fingers. The 9” Remco Dracula on Ebay in good shape goes for $35.00 to about $65.00, and the 3 3/4” version goes for about $8.00 – $36.00 dollars loose and in good shape. Both of these figures in package sell for over $100.00 and for collectors like myself are well worth the high price tag.

Remco Dracula DollRemco Dracula figure

Imperial Toys didn’t want to feel left out of the Universal Dracula toy releases, so in 1986, for their Universal Monster toy series, they made a Dracula that was made of hard plastic with moveable arms and head.  For some reason his face and hands are a very bright white, and he has bright red lips and cheesy rings on his fingers. The figure was sold two ways; one was loose with a tag attached to his neck and the second was in a package that showcased his castle in the background that was covered in spider webs and dust. I can remember seeing the Imperial Dracula figure at Kay-Bee Toys and wanting it to go alongside my Imperial Frankenstein’s Monster and Wolf Man that my Mom and Dad got for for Christmas that year. Sadly in my youth I never did get Dracula nor The Mummy but with in the last 3 years I was able to get them both.  Thanks to Ebay, I was able to snag Dracula with The Mummy coming from Monsterbash Convention. If you’re looking for Dracula on Ebay, this Imperial figure in good shape goes for around $4.00 all the way up to $25.00, and I must say the likeness of Bela Lugosi on this one is pretty far off, but what did you expect from a cheap toy company that made low cost figures.

Imperial Dracula

But these were not the only figures based on Dracula that have been made over the years, they were just the most popular ones. Some other amazing ones include Ben Cooper’s Dracula Jiggler and the other knock off companies that made versions. Just Toys made a very cool Dracula Bend-Em for their Universal Monster collection, and this is one figure I did own and once more got it for Christmas one year alongside The Wolf Man. Imperial also made Universal Monster Pogs that featured Dracula, not only on the milk caps but also on his very own Slammer, and yep I had this in my youth. Those are just a drop in the hat of all the cool toys made based around the Universal Dracula character. So needless to say, if you’re a toy collector and you also love Universal’s version of Dracula, you can find many great collectibles for your collection!

Dracula JigglerDracula Bendie ToyDracula Pog SlammerBig Head Dracula Figure

When I was a kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of the most popular cartoon as well as toyline, and in 1993 when Playmates, the makers of the toys, decided to combine the Turtles with Universal Monsters, an amazing thing happened for Monster Kids like myself. Ninja Turtle Donatello was the one combined with Count Dracula, and the figure came with not only a cape but also weapons like a wooden stake.  Growing up I never had the Don as Dracula figure, but I did have a few of the others and over the years have seen this figure at many places for sale like Mavericks Cards And Comics, Game Swap Kettering and Feathers. On Ebay, the figure in package sells for about $25.00 – $40.00 dollars and loose and incomplete for about $2.00 – $4.00. So if you want this figure for your TMNT collection, it’s not too expensive.

TMNT DON AS DRACULA

World Candies produced a sugar candy stick in a small box that featured a monster of Universal Studios fame, and as far as I can tell, these began in the 1970’s and were simply called Monster Candy. I remember them in the late 80’s and early 90’s because around Halloween time at Odd Lots or Big Lots, they would sell these candies by the bag full for like $1.00 or two and I would get them to give out and pig out on. The candy back then was a flat stick, and two would be in a box and on the candy would be monster faces.  Now they are more like candy sticks aka candy cigarettes. These candies were a big part of my childhood, and while they were kind of gross, I still love the idea of them to this day. Check out the super cool box for Dracula.

Monster Candy Dracula Box

In Waynesville, I lived very close to the Library and would walk there with my brother Bryan, mother, father, and we would rent VHS movies, books and comics. One of the book series I would check out the most and even make copies of the pictures on a copy machine was the Crestwood House Monster Books. I used to love sitting and reading about each monster and all the classic films that featured them.  The books would also fill you in on old legends about that monster and even talk a little about the source material they were based on whether it be a urban legend or a novel. They put out a second series that were more like kid novels based on the movies like Dracula’s Daughter. The Library used to also have a huge sale where they would sell you a bag of books for so many dollars, and I was lucky enough to snatch up many of these titles when they decided they didn’t need them anymore and still have them to this day. I find myself from time to time still dusting them off and enjoying these fun books of my youth. Some of them were based around Dracula and many of those books are a fun read for fans and the young at heart. On Ebay, you can get a used copy of the Crestwood Monster Dracula book for $10.00 – $20.00 depending on condition and if it’s a hard or soft cover.

Crestwood Dracula BookCrestwood Daughter Of Dracula

Puzzles have been a staple for kids of all ages, and to this day, puzzles are put together by kids and adults alike.  It comes as no surprise that Universal licensed out Dracula’s image to companies to make ones based around this icon of fright. The puzzles have some great artwork and are clearly geared towards younger kids with them being mere 100-200 pieces. Not much to say about these, but I figured they should at least get some respect here on Rotten Ink.

Universal Dracula PuzzleDracula Puzzle

Back in the 90’s, Doritos Chips gave away Universal Monster stickers in the bags you would find at your local grocery store, and I found myself begging my mom to buy this snack food so that I would be able to collect the whole set of these stickers. So every time we would go to Ellis, a small store in Downtown Waynesville I would get a bag of this chips.  Now I should tell you, I HATE Doritos – always have and always will – and this shows you my love for Universal Monsters as I suffered through eating those nasty chips. I can remember how happy I was when I got the Dracula sticker for the first time, and I proudly put it away for safe keeping.  When I got an extra, I put it inside the VHS tape giving my tape a little something extra. No matter how hard I tried and how many bags of powdered death, I ate I never did get a full set of these stickers making all my efforts even that more sad. I still have the stickers to this day, and they are stored away at Independent B Movie studio waiting for the day that I will proudly display them in my home. But check out below and see how cool the Dracula one is.

Doritos Dracula Sticker

I grew up in the age of breakfast cereal, and some of the best out there were the General Mills Monster Cereals with Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frankenberry and the wonders of how the world works when they put the cereal mascots alongside Universal Monsters! Let’s first breakdown Count Chocula as a character and his cereal. Count Chocula is vampire who is brown and wears brown clothes.  He is a friendly vampire to kids but hates Frankenberry and Boo Berry and thinks his cereal is the best. His feelings can be hurt when people run away from him, and he is scaredy cat. It’s clear as day that he is inspired by Lugosi’s version of Dracula because the mascot sounds like a poor man’s Bela. The cereal has a chocolate flavor to it and is my favorite out the the monster cereals.  It is one that I could eat every morning! But sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s, they put Lugosi as Dracula on the box with Count Chocula making a cool box for us kids to look at in the morning. Many items have been made in the image of Count Chocula including stuffed dolls, pencil tops, toys and shirts.

count choculacount chocula dracula boxCount Chocula Figure

Dracula has also made it to handheld video games like the ones made by Micro Games of America in 1994 and even ones made by Tiger have graced the hands of gamers. He has also been in pinball games at your local arcade and has been in a few PC games, and even had a full fledge game called simply Dracula for the Game Boy Color that was an official Universal Monsters product.  Not to mention, the mountains of other games that the character Dracula has appeared in making him one of the top classic monster bad guys used the most in video games.

Dracula Handheld gameUniversal Dracula Game Boy Color Game BoxGame Wizard Dracula Game

In 1997, fast food joint Burger King decided to have Universal Monster toys in their kids meal, and Count Dracula was one of the cheesiest and least wanted figure as for some reason his skin was flesh colored and it looked nothing like the classic Lugosi played vampire. Standing about 4 inches tall, the figure had a removable cape, a coffin and a glow in the dark sticker. The figure was perfect size to fit in with those kids of that day who played with G.I. Joe and Star Wars toys, and the best part was, they got it free for eating a cheeseburger and fries.  A pat on the back to Burger King for also bringing Dracula to a new generation of kids with these kids meal prizes even if the figure was lame in appearance.

BK Kids Club LogoBK Dracula Figure

Not to be outdone, another fast food hamburger joint also gave away figures based on the Universal Monsters, and unlike Burger King, they also included The Bride and did it twice! The first batch came in 1999 and had Dracula who looked just like the Burger King version in skin tone but had a weird grabbing feature as his action. Then in 2002, they put out a quick change magic trick Dracula that would have him turn from human into a bat via his coffin.  These figures are really cheap looking and kind of cheesy, but still worth owning for those who love all things Dracula. I don’t know much about these because there is no Jack in The Box in my area.

Jack In The Box Logo 0Jack In The Box Dracula Figure

The Universal Dracula Series has also been a big part of horror hosting as the films were a part of The Shock Theater and Son of Shock movie packages that allowed local TV stations to air the films with a host. Many of the old shows are lost like hosts such as Vampira, Sammy Terry, Dr. Creep and Melvin hosting these classic films but a few have survived, and some hosts have hosted them as late as early this year, 2016. But here are a few of the hosts I have that brought you some films from the Universal Dracula including Morgus The Magnificent and Baron Von Wolfstein.

Horror Host DVD Hosting Dracula 1Horror Host DVD Hosting Dracula 2

But this is called Rotten Ink and is a blog mostly about comic books, so we should talk about comics that are based around Dracula that are licensed by Universal. Off the top of my head, I can only think of two; one being released by Dell in 1963 as part of their Movie Classics line called “Dracula”, with it later being paired with The Mummy by Dell. The other is the Dark Horse comic “Universal Monsters Dracula” that was released in 1993 and is the subject of this epic update. The Dell comic is a new story about Dracula, while Dark Horses is just based on the script and is a movie adaptation. Both of these are comics we will get to at some point here on Rotten Ink as well as Marvel’s Tomb Of Dracula series.  I am looking forward to bringing you those.

Universal Dracula Comic Book Dell 10Universal Dracula Comic Book Dell with Mummy 20

One of my favorite internet shows has to be The Angry Video Game Nerd.  What is not to like about a funny character playing old video games from my youth and making fun of the flaws that have tortured many kids that played them. The Nerd is played and created by James Rolfe who also grew up as a Monster Kid watching the classic Universal Films, Horror Hosts like Joe Bob Briggs, making his own films and loving all things spooky. Every Halloween, he has a Nerd Special where he reviews a horror themed game, and in 2008, The Nerd covered Dracula themed games and he was in fact a vampire in the episode himself wearing a cape and all. But of course, the games he plays are terrible, including the NES unreleased game Drac’s Night Out, and uses the suns rays to commit suicide so he didn’t have to play any more terrible Dracula games. Every HalloweenJames Rolfe also has a show called Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness where he talks about Horror films, and one year for this show he did sequels and covered the whole Universal Dracula series. Fun shows and worth checking out at http://cinemassacre.com.

AVGN as DraculaAVGN Art Dracula EpisodeAVGN as Dracula 2

On Sunday, October 25, 2015 at 12:50pm at the Cinemark theater at The Greene Juliet, her mom and myself went to see the 1931 Universal Dracula on the big screen just in time for Halloween! We were all pretty hyped as the event was supposed to have a cool new intro from a film historian and was to be followed up by the Spanish version of Dracula.  With some candy and drinks in hand, we were ready for some classic horror film frights. There was a decent amount of people in the theater including mothers with their children who were talking about how scary the movie was when they where little.  This put a huge smile on my face as this classic Universal film was being passed down to a younger generation of Monster Kids.  Joining us were senior citizens who came to relive watching Lugosi in all his caped glory. But what was going to be an epic afternoon of Universal Horror once more turned into the ultimate blunder of Cinemark as they cut the new intro by the film historian, started the Lugosi Dracula film after the opening credits and to boot never showed the Spanish version! I was pretty annoyed by this as Cinemark at the Greene is my go-to theater, and they fouled up showing a classic monster movie event.  But with all blunders aside, it was great to see Dracula on the big screen along with Juliet and her Mom, who also loves a good classic Horror fright flick! So while fun, I still want to say shame on you Cinemark, for charging full price for an event you didn’t show fully.

Dracula On The Sign at CinemarkDracula Ticket CinemarkThe Theater Gearing Up To See Dracula 1931 at Cinemark

So we have arrivied at Castle Dracula, and I can see our host making his way down the long stone stairs so while we wait for him to bid us, welcome I should thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for having this Dark Horse adaptation in stock. I also hear the children of the night telling me to remind you all that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. Plus I want to say that I am really happy to present this update to all you readers and friends this close to the Halloween season, and hope I did this classic, iconic and impactful film justice with this update. Our host is here and inviting us in for a glass of wine, so let’s head on in and take a look at this blood sucking comic!

Dracula 1 Dark Horse Comics

Dracula # 1  ***
Released in 1993    Cover Price $4.95    Dark Horse    # 1 of 1

Renfield arrives at Castle Dracula in Transylvania to meet Count Dracula, a client who is buying the Carfax Abbey in England, but during his first night there, Renfield is bitten by Dracula who is a vampire. The next day Renfield is now the slave of Dracula, and they are aboard a ship bound for England when Dracula comes from his coffin and kills the crew during a massive storm. Renfield is the only one found alive on the ship when it docks, and he is found to be mad and taken away to an asylum as Dracula walks the streets sucking the blood of a young lady selling flowers he stumbles upon. Dracula goes to the symphony and meets the Dr. Seward who runs the asylum near the Carfax Abbey, his daughter Mina, her fiance John Harker as well as her best friend Lucy. Later that night Dracula targets Lucy to become his first bride and bites her on the neck as she sleeps, and by doing so kills her and turns her into a vampire. Dr. Seward goes to his friend Dr. Van Helsing for answers to Lucy’s death, and he in turns knows that Renfield must be the helper to the vampire that is stalking England, but he is not sure who it is. Meanwhile Dracula has now selected Mina as his next bride and also wants to use her to help bring down her father and Van Helsing only slightly turning her to a vampire and more as a slave that will do his bidding. The next day while Mina explains a bad dream she had to her father, John and Van Helsing, they spot two bite marks on her neck and as Count Dracula enters and thanks to a mirror, Van Helsing figures out that Dracula is the vampire they seek. Dracula returns later that night and allows Mina to drink his blood forming a bond between the two and later takes her to his safe place at Carfax Abbey. John and Van Helsing follow Renfield who has escaped the asylum to the Carfax Abbey, and Dracula rips the heart out of his one time slave and rushes to his coffin.  The sun is coming up after he spots John and Van Helsing have entered his home! Van Helsing drives a stake through Dracula’s heart, and Mina snaps out of her trance and returns home with her lover leaving this nightmare behind.

I first want to state that I enjoyed this comic book adaptation of the classic 1931 Universal Monster film Dracula from Dark Horse, but I also want to say that writer Dan Vado took some liberties with the story by doing such things as cutting Dracula’s Brides out of the opening, having Dracula cut his own arm for Mina to drink from, shows the stake going into the heart of Dracula, Renfield has his heart ripped out of his body by Dracula, Lucy just disappears once she becomes a vampire as well as adds blood to the hand of the flower girl that’s bitten by Dracula after he exits the ship. The story is this Dracula comes to England from his home in Transylvania and tries to turn two friends into his vampire brides but is soon on the radar of a highly intelligent doctor who is aware of the vampire legend and travels to the dark side of the world to free the soul of his friends daughter who is in danger by the curse of Dracula’s bite. So lets break down our cast of characters starting with Mina Seward who is the eye candy for Dracula who is your typical naive young female character who is under the spell of evil and does nothing to help herself to escape. But with that said Mina is a great character as she fits the part of the damsel in distress that is needed in all great fairy tales. John Harker is a man who loves his fiance and will do what ever it takes to keep her safe, while he talks a good game he is not the man who steps up and saves Mina from her fate. Van Helsing is the real hero of this tale as he is the one who knows the vampire legends, understands what can stop them, figures out who the vampire is and is the one who ends up driving the stake into the heart of Dracula ending his terror. Dr. Seward is just like John while he wants to keep his daughter safe he just has no clue how to do so. Renfield is a man who is driven insane and has enter battles with what his dark side tells him to do and what he knows is right. The poor fool who does what ever he can for Dracula is rewarded with having his heart ripped from his body as it was clear the vampire had no real care for his insane slave. Count Dracula is suave, violent and very cold as he don’t care about life and only wants his needs meet as he did not care who’s lives he ruined in his quest for new brides. Dracula in this comic is so much more evil in the film as he seems to get joy from killing and has no remorse for when he does kill. Lucy as well as the asylum workers and maids are all just secondary characters and fit their roles well. The odd thing about this adaptation is that it takes a classic black and white horror film that is known for it’s lack of blood and gore and decides to add in both! While I am sure some readers disliked these changes I looked at them as the artists and writers trying to add their own spin on this classic story. The art is done by John D. Smith and is a very cool paint style that captures the look of Lugosi very well as Dracula, but oddly enough NONE of the other characters look like the actors who played them in the 1931 film with them even going so far to give Van Helsing a beard. But while Dracula might be the only one who looks like he should I found myself really liking the art as well as the cover that is really amazing and showcases just how talented Smith is at capturing the creepy feel of Bela. Over all this was a great read and an amazing read to lead us into the month of October! If your a fan of classic Universal Monsters and love comic books I would say for sure check it out! Check out some of the art below from this comic and see just how cool it looks, I must say sorry for the poor quality of the pictures as I had to use my iPhone in order to get them and not a scanner.

Universal Dracula Dark Horse Art 1Universal Dracula Dark Horse Art 2Universal Dracula Dark Horse Art 3

So we have made it out of Castle Dracula alive and with all our blood intact, and we should count ourselves lucky as this far we have not only survived Count Dracula with out countdown to Halloween but also this far Jaws and The Tallman! This update was lots of fun to write and really helped me get into the Halloween spirit as Universal Monster movies always kick of the spooky mood and feeling that goes along with the months of October and September for me. I hope I did this 1931 film and its legacy justice with this update as it’s in honor of Bela Lugosi, who is a true horror actor icon. But I am sure you’re wondering what’s next for out countdown to Halloween.  We are leaving Castle Dracula and heading to Ireland to come face to face with the one and only Rawhead Rex! So until next time, read a comic or three, see a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host…See you next update my ghoulish friends and readers.

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Terror Of The Deep Blue Sea…JAWS!!

GET OUT OF THE WATER! I am not screaming this at you because you just ate a hamburger and dove into the pool.  We all know you could get a cramp from that, but I am screaming this because our 1st countdown to Halloween update is all about that terror of the ocean Jaws! Humankind has always had a slight fear of the ocean and the Great White Shark has always been the foe of those looking for a good time in the ocean as they are known man-eaters and are not afraid to take a bite out of you! But in 1975, thanks to Steven Spielberg and Universal Studios, the world became afraid to go swimming as the film JAWS chewed its way to the top of the box office and made viewers scared to enter the water! The first time I saw Jaws is when my Dad showed it to me on cable TV, and I can remember even at a young age loving the mood and slow burn approach as the final showdown of man vs. shark unfolded before my young eyes. I can remember getting the same charge and wonder when watching JAWS 2, but the series lost steam for me when I watched part 3 and the revenge. So this update is going to be a fun one that I hope helps build you up for Halloween that is just around the corner.  So lets get on our wetsuits and dive into the water as we take a look at JAWS 2 and the Marvel adaptation of this classic late 70’s drama horror film.

The Shark Is Waiting For You

To understand JAWS, we must first travel back to 1916 and the Jersey Shore line as a rogue shark attacked people along the coastline and beyond.  For 12 horrifying days, this man eater went on its rampage leaving four dead and one injured. The first attack took place on July 1 with the victim being Charles Epting Vansant, who was 25 years old and was attacked by the shark while on vacation and swimming at Beach Haven.  His legs were being bitten by the shark and by the time help got to him, the shark had stripped the flesh off of his left thigh.  Charles would go on to bled to death from his injuries. Witnesses claimed that the shark even followed Charles up to shore before returning back into the Atlantic Ocean. The next attack took place on July 6th when 27 year old Charles Bruder was swimming at Spring Lake where he was attacked by the shark who bit his abdomen and, rumor goes, even severed the young man’s legs turning the water around him blood red in color.  He also bled to death from his injuries. On July 12, a group of boys went swimming in Matawan Creek when Lester Stilwell, who was 11, was attacked by the shark.  The other boys fled and ran to town for help.  Among them was Watson Stanley, a 24 year old business man who dove into the water to save the youngster, but he was bitten by the shark in the thigh and bled to death from his injuries. Stilwell’s body was found later downstream on July 14. Less than 30 minutes after the deaths of Stilwell and Stanley, in the water near Wyckoff Dock, Joseph Dunn, who was 14 at the time, was bitten and attacked by the shark who clamped onto his leg.  Dunn’s brother and a friend saved his life when they pulled Joseph away from the shark and were able to get him to the hospital in time.

After the attacks, panic filled the good people of the New York and New Jersey coastlines and many fishermen and trackers tried to hunt down the wicked rogue shark. Most believe that Michael Schleisser, a lion tamer for the circus, caught the shark when on July 14 he did battle with one that nearly sunk his boat and was nearly 8 feet in length. After beating the shark with a broken oar, he found the belly of the beast was filled with human flesh and bone! The shark was dubbed “The Jersey Man-Eater” and was mounted and placed on display in a shop off Broadway, until the body of The Jersey Man-Eater went missing some time later. But even after this, people still didn’t think that this was the right shark and that the real killer shark was still out in the water looking for more humans to chomp on.  Over the years, TV shows and channels like In Search Of, History Channel, Discovery and many more have covered this case and have given their own opinions on wheter the real Jersey Man-Eater ever was caught. The real downside to this story is that in 1916, before many of these attacks, boat captains had warned people about seeing the shark or sharks in the water, and they were laughed at and ignored.  Lives could have been saved if only they would have listened to those who know the sea better then most. Below is a picture of The Jersey Man-Eater and Michael Schleisser, the man who captured him and “stopped” the 12 Days of Terror.

As a youngster, author Peter Benchley loved to go fishing with his dad in Nantucket, and during this time, he would encounter sharks.  This sparked his fascination with these powerful predators of the waters. These boyhood memories would stick with him, and he would spend years thinking about writing a novel about a shark that attacked people and would not go away as its bloodlust was just too powerful. In 1964 fuel got added to the fire when a 4,550 pound shark was caught off the shore of Long Island, New York.  By 1971, Benchley was struggling as a freelance writer, but fate was about to change when he had lunch with his editor Thomas Congdon who encouraged him to write his fiction book about the shark attacking a resort.  History was made as the novel Jaws hit bookstores and became a hit with readers and some critics. The book had many titles during its production like “Leviathan Rising” and “The Stillness In The Water,” but out of the need for something easy to fit on the cover, they stuck with a simple title “JAWS.” A funny fact about the book is that it climbed California’s best seller list when the film was going into production as Steven Spielberg and many of the other producers bought hundreds of copies of the book to hand out to crew and family! Growing up, I had a paperback copy of JAWS and can remember reading through it but never finishing it.  I’m not really sure why I never finished it as I always enjoyed the movie and like most kids was in awe of the ocean and all the fish and animals that live in it. I could go on and on about the book and go into more detail on its creation as well as it’s impact on culture, but I just wanted to give you a little nibble and not a chunk about it.  So to sum it up, if you love the film make sure to read the novel if you have not done so yet.

Jaws Novel 1peter benchley and a sharkJaws Novel cover 2

So up to this point, we took a look at the true events that inspired JAWS with the 1916 attacks near the Jersey Shore, and we also took a quick look at the novel that inspired the film series, written by Peter Benchley. Now I think its time to go out into deeper water and take a look at the JAWS franchise that has a total of four films under its man-eating belt. Growing up, I watched these movies so many times, and for me, the shark “JAWS” was just as much an icon of horror as Norman Bates, Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Chucky, Dracula, Tallman, Cemetery Zombie and so many other amazing characters that shaped my youthful mind! So let’s get to the fat of this review and take a quick look at the films in this series with film write ups being taken from our good friends at IMDB.

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JAWS (1975)

It’s a hot summer on Amity Island, a small community whose main business is its beaches. When new Sheriff Martin Brody discovers the remains of a shark attack victim, his first inclination is to close the beaches to swimmers. This doesn’t sit well with Mayor Larry Vaughn and several of the local businessmen. Brody backs down to his regret as that weekend a young boy is killed by the predator. The dead boy’s mother puts out a bounty on the shark and Amity is soon swamped with amateur hunters and fisherman hoping to cash in on the reward. A local fisherman with much experience hunting sharks, Quint, offers to hunt down the creature for a hefty fee. Soon Quint, Brody and Matt Hooper from the Oceanographic Institute are at sea hunting the Great White shark. As Brody succinctly surmises after their first encounter with the creature, they’re going to need a bigger boat.”

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JAWS 2 (1978)

The small island resort town of Amity is trying to bounce back from the financial troubles that suffered after becoming known as the site of shark attacks four years earlier. Mayor Larry Vaughn is welcoming developer Len Peterson and his new resort to Amity. Two scuba divers are exploring the area where the Orca sank after police chief Martin Brody killed a huge shark four years ago. A shark shows up and devoured the two divers, but not before one of the divers takes a close-up picture of the shark’s eye, and sometime later, while a mother is driving a boat that’s pulling her water-skiing teenage daughter, the shark devours the daughter and causes the mother to accidentally blow up the boat, then a killer whale is found on the shore with a huge bites on it. After Brody sees this, he knows there’s another huge great white shark in Amity’s waters, but Vaughn and Peterson explain these attacks away as non-shark accidents, because the thought of another shark in Amity’s waters would drive…”

I decided that since Jaws 2 is the film the comic adaptation we are reviewing for this update, I would share a few fun facts about the film. Steven Spielberg was asked to direct the sequel but turned it down as he felt he made the “definitive” shark movie and claimed that “making a sequel to anything is just a cheap carny trick.” He later stated that he would have possibly come back to direct the sequel if he didn’t have a troubled production at sea with the first one. One of the film’s early ideas was to have the sons of Brody and Quint be on the hunt for a new man eating shark that was causing chaos. One of the scripts was a downbeat one, and Universal stepped in and made them make it a little more cheery! Susan Ford, daughter of former president Gerald Ford, shot the film’s publicity photos.  Martha’s Vineyard was used as the location of Amity’s town scenes, and the crew was met with mixed reactions this time around as many of the locals thought that the big production and its workers were rude and not happy go lucky like the first film’s crew. Roy Scheider, who played Sheriff Brody in the original film as well as this sequel, was not to happy to be in this film and was paid a large weekly salary but was always in a bad mood and would complain and argue with the director. Students from Gulf Breeze High School were hired to play extras at $3.00 an hour and were able to miss school in order to film. Just some fun facts that I wanted to share.

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JAWS 3-D (1983)

Michael Brody and Sean Brody, the sons of former Amity police chief Martin Brody, work at Florida’s Sea World, a seaside park run by Calvin Bouchard. Sean befriends Kelly Ann Bukowski, and Michael’s girlfriend Kathryn Morgan is Sea World’s head scientist who always works with Sea World’s dolphins Cindy and Sandy. In its man-made lagoon, about 40 feet under the water, Sea World opens the Undersea Kingdom, a new set of underwater glass tunnels that have their own control room, and Calvin’s friend Philip FitzRoyce is there to do some filming. When Sea World diver Shelby Overman vanishes, everyone is worried. Michael and Kathryn head into the water, where they find a baby great white shark and decide to bring it to Sea World to put it on display, but at Sea World, the baby shark dies. When Overman’s body is found, Michael vomits when he sees it. Kathryn looks at the body and knows that the baby shark could not have been the shark that killed Overman, because the baby shark’s bite radius …”

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JAWS: The Revenge (1987)

Ellen Brody still lives in the island resort town of Amity, and her sons Sean and Michael don’t work at Sea World anymore, and some time ago, Ellen’s husband Martin Brody died of a heart attack that happened because he was afraid of sharks. Sean is now a deputy in Amity. One night, during the Christmas season, Sean is called to untangle a log from a buoy, and when Sean goes to the buoy, he’s killed by a great white shark. After hearing about this, Michael, who is studying to be a marine biologist, visits Amity with his wife Carla and his 5-year-old daughter Thea. Wanting to get away from Amity and spend Christmas with Michael, Carla, and Thea, Ellen goes with them to their house in the Bahamas on an airplane whose pilot is Hoagie Newcombe, and Hoagie starts falling for Ellen. Michael’s friend Jake, who is also studying to be a marine biologist, lives next door to Michael. Sometime later, while Michael and Jake are out at sea, their boat is attacked by the shark that killed Sean. …”

The first film in the series was directed by Steven Spielberg and was a mega hit not only at the box office but also with critics.  The sequels were directed by Jeannot Szwarc for part 2, Joe Alves for part 3, and the 4th and final was directed by Joseph Sargent.  While mostly hits in their own right, they never did capture box office gold like the original. In 1975, Jaws was the top grossing film, beating out Rocky Horror Picture Show, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Deep Red, Death Race 2000 and Dog Day Afternoon to name a few and bringing in a total to date of $260,000,000.00! Jaws 2 in 1978 was the 7th highest grossing film with $77,737,272.00 beating out such classics as Dawn Of The Dead, The Deer Hunter, Revenge Of The Pink Panther, Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Debbie Does Dallas and Damien: Omen II. Jaws 3-D in 1983 was # 15 with $45,517,055.00 beating out films like Scarface, Psycho II, Porkys II, Twilight Zone The Movie, The Outsiders, Cujo, A Christmas Story, Krull, Strange Brew, Amityville 3-D and The Evil Dead. Poor old Jaws: The Revenge was not a shinning star in 1987, locking in the # 54 spot and only bringing in $20,763,013.00.  It did, however, beat out other cult films like Born In East L.A., Masters Of The Universe, Over The Top, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Hellraiser, Creepshow 2, Prince Of Darkness, The Gate, Back To The Beach, House II, Who’s That Girl, Death Wish 4 and The Chipmunk Adventure to name a very select few. It’s clear that Universal decided not to make a 5th film due to the poor performance of Jaws: The Revenge that had a massive drop in box office dollars and was showing signs of a tired franchise. With no new JAWS movies being talked about and the idea of remaking it shot down by fans and Hollywood itself, those looking for shark movies to send shivers down their spine will have to watch the series on DVD or get their fix with the many clones that this series has sparked like Deep Blue Sea, Shark Attack, Open Water and countless terrible made for TV films. I will always say the first two JAWS films are fantastic and a great way to spend time watching right before you vacation or head to your local beach. I should also say I would love to see Universal do another JAWS sequel as I feel the time is right to unleash the giant shark again on movie goers. Oh, and my girlfriend Juliet would kill me if I didn’t mention that the mechanical shark from JAWS was named Bruce and that many special effects people had to work very hard to get it to move and work right as the salt filled water and air made for a very tricky production.

Jaws Attacks

Amusement park Universal Studios Florida had an idea to take a popular tour attraction from their Hollywood sister park that had during the tour of the studio seeing Jaws who would try to attack as they passed and turning it into a full ride of its own! Universal along side Ride & Show Engineering with consultant Steven Spielberg began planning on constructing the Jaws Ride that they hoped would be a major attraction for the Florida theme park. The ride opened on June 7, 1990 but was plagued with many issues as the special effects of the ride seemed not to want to work and many times daily it would have to be evacuated from all the breakdowns. The ride was a flop at first as Ride & Show Engineering failed to make the ride to work and failed at designing the ride to work in water, and for years Universal tried to make the effects and ride work, but could never make it happen as it was just to poorly made by the designers. But hope for a solid and iconic ride was in the cards as Totally Fun Company, Oceaneering International and ITEC Entertainment came to the rescue and redesigned the ride almost from the ground up! The ride reopened in 1993 with Roy Scheider, Steven Spielberg and Lorraine Gray being on hand to introduce a crowd of fans and riders to the horror ride experience of their life! In 2004 the ride was shutdown for a short time and then became a seasonal ride in 2005 when gas prices rose after hurricanes slowed down production of the petroleum, but due to the mass amounts of complaints from guests they opened it full time again in 2007. While it was a major attraction on January 2, 2012 Jaws The Ride was closed down by Universal Studios Florida to make room for new attractions that turned out to be Harry Potter World and the ride “Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts” and this was terrible news for me as I have always wanted to ride Jaws but never got a chance…stupid Harry Potter! I am guessing for those who don’t know what the ride was about I should fill in. The ride has a “captain” taking guests around Amity Island all the while Jaws attacks as explosions and special effects go off all around. In the end thanks to a power cable JAWS is defeated and you make it out of the boat alive! On a cool side note on March 31, 2001 Universal Studios Japan was able to get a version of the JAWS Ride that is still open till this day, showing that they understand that the ride is iconic and didn’t need to break it down for Potter and his magic world. By the way I have nothing against Harry Potter…or do I? My cousin Stephen Alexander was able to ride it in his youth as has many other of my friends so at least they have their memories of this iconic and groundbreaking ride. Below are some pictures of the ride taken by happy guests as well as an old school ad for it.

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One thing about JAWS I remember just as well as the films I grew up watching, is the scene in Back To The Future II when Marty McFly played by Michael J. Fox is walking down the street in his hometown Hill Valley now in the future (2015) and playing at the Holomax Theater is Jaws 19 directed by Max Spielberg, who is the real life son of Steven, the director of the original JAWS. The film’s tagline is “This Time It’s Really Really Personal,” and as Marty walks by the cinema, a giant holographic JAWS pops out and comes toward Marty who screams and soon finds its all just an illusion to sell tickets to the film. Sadly 2015 has passed, and so far we have not gotten a JAWS sequel since 1987, but here is to Robert Zemeckis and the cast and crew of Back To The Future Part II for making a fun moment in that classic film.

Back To The Future 2 Jaws

JAWS also made it so that it was not safe to play you video game system of choice as many games have been made based around this killer great white shark. The Commodore 64 version was released by Box Office Games a game sadly I have never played but will track down and do so someday. The Nintendo Entertainment System got one put out by LJN and this is the one I remember the most as it was a game I have owned for years and have spent many hours going from port to port to get shells to trade for tools of the trade to try and defeat JAWS. More modern games made for PS2, Xbox and WII were made by Majesco and has you the player control JAWS and complete missions that including humans and other ocean life. So as you can see JAWS in video games allows players to be humans but also the shark depending on the systems you play it on and the companies who developed them. I really do have good memories of playing JAWS on the NES and even with the last few years I watched my cousin Stephen beat it! So for all you readers who are gamers there is many ways to pick to play JAWS.

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The Angry Video Game Nerd in 2012 episode 101 entitled Spielberg Games reviewed JAWS for the NES and gives his typical funny review of it all the while ripping it a new one over it’s beyond repetitive game play and the over all cheesy way and awkward way you must beat JAWS in the final battle that has you as the player spear him in the neck with the end of your boat! Also during this episode he looks at NES Games like Jurassic Park and Hook, so if you like funny and crude reviews done by one of my favorite internet stars make sure to give it a watch.

AVGN Jaws

Like all good Horror Movie Franchises JAWS has had it’s massive share of merchandise from video games to soundtracks and everything in-between. Topps did trading cards for JAWS 2, many pool toys where made to make your swimming pool a scene from JAWS, T-Shirts, Pog Slammers, Novels, Hats, Posters, Magazines and even in 2015 ReAction figures were made! Some of the things I have owned about JAWS over the years to present include the Novels, Marvel Comic Adaptation for JAWS 2, the POG Slammer, trading cards, soundtracks and just last year (2015) Juliet got me the ReAction figure of the shark! So all you fans of this film there are many great collectables out in the world for your collections. Oh and I am almost pretty sure that my cousins Dino, Norman and Nick had the pool toy JAWS as I can remember us one summer playing out the movie in their pool!

Jaws Pool ToyJaws 2 Trading Card packJaws ReAction Figures

John Williams is the master of movie music and has done the scores for such films as Superman The Movie, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, E.T., Raiders Of The Lost Arch and JAWS! These titles are just a drop in the hat of the amazing work he has done in films that have inspired and entertained viewers for decades. The JAWS 2 soundtrack is refreshing, as Williams did not recycle his old music from the first one and added a new flavor to fit the over all nature, mood and characters of this sequel. While the familiar JAWS theme is present it’s done in a new way with only it playing along with a new piece of music to sandwich it between. While I find JAWS 2 to have a fantastic and fitting score it still does fall a little short at being as iconic as it’s predecessor. While I wrote much of this update I played my CD of JAWS 2 as background music and found it very fitting and really put me into the frame of mind to write about these series of films and the Marvel Comic. The track from this soundtrack that I like to play on WYSO is called “End Title. End Cast” that mixes soft melodies and booming horns. Over all if you like score music to films like I do this one is a good one to have in your collection. This soundtrack can be found on Vinyl, Cassette and CD so many ways to own it in your collection.

Jaws 2 Soundtrack CD

There is blood in the water now and the sharks are starting to circle us so I think its time that we take a look at the Marvel Super Special of JAWS 2 and see just how well this comic holds up to the film. I want to point out that I will call the great white shark JAWS through out this review and in fact did so throughout the update, I know that’s not the sharks name in the film but as a youngster I grew up calling the shark that name and find myself still to this day doing it, so in other words old habits die hard. I want to thank Lone Star Comics from Texas and my favorite store to order comics online from for having this issue in stock. I want to also point out that make sure your oxygen tank is filled and your flippers not broken as I grade on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if your ready this cool September night lets dive deep into the ocean and come face to face with the one and only razor toothed menace of the ocean JAWS.

Jaws 2 Comic

JAWS 2  # 1  ***
Released in 1977    Cover Price $1.50    Marvel    # 1 of 1

A pair of lobster divers find a sunken boat and think of the money they can make of the salvage, but soon find that they are not going to live long enough to make that money as Jaws the great white shark is back and makes a quick meal of them. On Amity Island Chief Brody is still scared by the events that took place there three years before as is the town that has lost traction of being a good place to vacation. Brody and his fellow officers find the divers boat abandon and later a group of collage age skiers are attacked by Jaws and their boat blown up leaving no evidence of the shark attack. While Brody is being laughed at for his obsession of sharks his young sons teenager Mike and youngster Sean are taking a boat out to a small island that holds a lighthouse and spending time with friends, but as they are in the water so is Jaws who once more targets some divers who are sadly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Brody along with a helicopter hit the water to bring the teens in as it’s now clear that Jaws is back! Mike and Sean along with friends are having a great time when Jaws attacks and eats and kills many of the youngsters with her powerful jaws and razor sharp teeth, the beast of the ocean also brings down the helicopter and kills it’s drivers! Finally Brody is able to trick Jaws into bitting down on a power line that was at the bottom of the water and brought to the surface thanks to a drag line and once Jaws chomps down on it, the great white shark is fried and Brody meets all the surviving teens and his sons on the Light House island.

Jaws 2 translated from movie to comic very well and has enough cut and some slight adds that make it feel like it’s own adventure, as they could not squeeze a nearly 2 hour movie into a standard comic magazine special. The plot is this Brody and the town of Amity are not over the shark attacks that took place three years in the past and now the shark is back and hungry for flesh and revenge and when Brody’s own children are on the menu he must try his hardest to save them and the town form the sharks warpath of chaos. Sheriff Brody is a man stuck in the past who has grown to fear sharks and even the ocean and spends most days on duty watching the waters. He is getting to the point were is paranoia is effecting his relationship with his teenage son Mike are he wants him to stay clear of the water as he fears that another shark attack could happen. But even while paranoid Brody still has the respect of the towns people and steps up to be the hero again when the shark comes calling for human hide to chew on. Sean and Mike are just normal youngsters who want to just enjoy the summer and travel the waters on Mike’s new boat. But when they don’t listen to their fathers they of course run into trouble that leaves many of their friends dead! The Shark or as I call JAWS is one mean mama who wants to eat as many people as possible before summers end, she travels the waters looking for divers, swimmers and skiers and seems as if she has a bone to pick with Brody as she targets his children. That’s one thing I really do like about this comic adaptation they really push home that JAWS is a female so that should make female readers happy that the killer of this horror comic is indeed a female. The comic is pretty bloody and has the shark eating and ripping people apart with also depictions of blood in the water. The horror element of the comic is present as they try and build the idea into the readers mind that JAWS is always in the water and will not stop killing and eating humans, they add the drama factor with Brody and his son Mike not seeing eye to eye and mix them all together with a small town feel. The art work is done by the team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer and for the most part its fantastic, the only downside is that none of the characters besides JAWS looks like the actors who played them making for a slight disappointment. But with that said the shark art and murders are top notch stuff and pretty brutal for a Marvel Comic from the late 70’s. The cover as you can see is good but also very cheesy and does great job of mixing sex and violence. Over all I must say I had a fun time reading this comic and it was a great way to kick off the first update in my countdown to Halloween! So check out some artwork below and see just how cool JAWS looks in this fun comic adaptation.

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So now that the waters are safe, and we made it safely past the jaws of that great white shark, we should take a look at another horror icon that has made the leap to comics.  I am thinking that in honor of his fifth film, we should look at the Tallman from the Phantasm series and the comic made by Xmachina! So make sure to come back for that one as I am sure it will be a bone chilling good time! It’s now time that I leave you as I have some Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre and Sparkle Comics duties I need to get done, so until next time, stay out of the water, watch out for sharks, read a comic or three and support your local horror host.

Phantasm Logo

Star Trek : The Intergalactic Icons Of Space

Space is a vast place filled with all types of mysteries and things that we have yet to discover.  Many people my age grew up with space and planets like Mars being things that sparked imagination as well as discussion in and out of school.  Not to mention things like Star Wars, Flash Gordon and The Last Star Fighter were popular films, and some even had toy lines that all kids still played with. But one space themed show always got my attention was Star Trek.  Characters like James T. Kirk, Spock and Leonard McCoy were all interesting and already had iconic status in the mid 80’s when I first remember watching the show. So for this update, I figured that in honor of the new Star Trek film in theaters, the announcement of a new TV series in the works and the fact that earlier this year Juliet spoke about Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was time for me to take a look at Marvel Comics series based on the original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise! So set your phasers to stun and be ready to beam aboard as we boldly go where Rotten Ink has only gone once before!

Enterprise Ship In Space

Gene Roddenberry was born on August 19, 1921 in El Paso, Texas and later with his family moved to Los Angeles and became a fan of stories about Tarzan and John Carter Warlord of Mars. Roddenberry majored in police science but found his calling in aeronautical engineering that lead to his stint with the United States Army Air Corps and would lead him to later working for Pan American World Airways.  During his time as a pilot, he would be involved in a total of three crashes, two as the pilot with and one as a passenger. The last crash, while working for Pan American, was so bad that 14 people lost their lives and many others were seriously hurt.  A short time later this lead to him stepping down in the company and pursuing his love for writing fiction and working for the Los Angeles Police Department as a traffic cop and later as a member of the Public Information Division as his writing was really good. During this time, he was also able to serve as an advisor for such shows as “Mr. District Attorney” and “Highway Patrol” in the 1950’s. These shows kicked off Gene’s dive into television as a producer and writer, and he delivered for such shows as “The West Point Story”, “Bat Masterson”, “Have Gun Will Travel” and “The Wrangler”, but in 1966 it was “Star Trek” that made Gene a true icon of science fiction Television. Gene would go on through out the 70’s and 80’s writing and producing shows and the Star Trek movies. His next TV hit would be the 1987 series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Gene was married twice with his last wife being Majel Barrett who is the voice actress of the starships in the Star Trek universe as well as played Nurse Chapel in the original series and Lwaxana Troi in the Next Generation. He also had three children with his son Rod following in his footsteps in becoming a TV producer with his biggest upcoming work being the new 2017 Star Trek series! Sadly this icon of TV writing and producing passed away on October 24, 1991 at the age of 70, and while gone, his work lives on and entertains viewers still to this day. This update is for you, Gene Roddenberry, as well as all the cast and crew who made Star Trek possible.

Gene Roddenberry 1Gene Roddenberry 2Gene Roddenberry 3

I first watched the original Star Trek TV Show with my dad who would tune in when it aired in reruns. I can remember always being so hyped to see what strange alien was going to be on next, and Spock was my favorite character as he had pointed ears. My dad also use to tease my mom about Captain Kirk as she was not a William Shatner fan and used to say he couldn’t act.  I was around 5 or 6 years of age at the time, and as I grew up I have always had a very big attachment to this series and love it still to this day. Star Trek first aired in September 8. 1966 for CBS and was produced by Paramount and quickly became a hit for fans of science fiction television who loved the futuristic tech talk and quickly bonded with the likable crew lead by the Starfleet rebel Captain Kirk or so you would think! The truth is when Star Trek first aired, it did very poorly on the Nielsen ratings and was canceled by NBC after 3 seasons and a total of 79 episodes, and it was not until its syndication run that it built up a major cult following that sparked it into the major science fiction brand it is today. Imagine that, when originally airing the show was not catching on and was not gaining viewers, and once it was cancelled and shown in reruns it became a mega hit, much like modern shows like “Family Guy” that was cancelled and fans were able to bring it back for more seasons that lead to it wearing out its welcome years ago. Once the show picked up steam in the world of syndication, this lead to a string of movies as well as a ton of spin off TV series. It’s odd that to me as a kid, Star Trek was just so magical and filled with so much high tech wonder and was as enjoyable to me as Star Wars and Flash Gordon, both of which I also grew up with. In 2017 a new Star Trek series will be released for CBS and the premier episode will air on broadcast TV with all following episodes only available via their subscription based streaming service called “ CBS All Access,” and to me, this is a really dumb and not only limits the amount of people watching this series, but also cheapens it. I should also note that in 2006 Paramount and CBS decided to re-master and re-due the effects for the original series and once more it went into syndication, and I can remember my friend and roommate Patrick Neeley watching them at night and talking to me about them the next day. The original Star Trek series has been in my life for as long as I can remember from watching with my dad to popping it in on DVD for my viewing enjoyment, it still remains an amazing series that defines the term science fiction.

Original Star Trek Cast On Set

As I said the cheesy wonderful aliens were one of the reasons I loved this series when I was a kid, and hell, even to this day, because who could forget such characters as the lizard race Gorns, the fuzzy furballs the Tribbles, the one horned white gorilla Mugato or the Salt Vampire, not to mention the Klingons and the likes of the powerful Khan! While much of the time the aliens were just guys and women in greasepaint or rubber suits, something about these basic looking aliens was a draw for viewers like myself. I can remember as a kid loving the Gorn and Salt Vampire and wishing toys were made based on them so I could have them attack my Star Wars figures! Plus the show was our first taste of Khan who would go on to be one of the most sinister bad guys in Star Trek history. So if you’re a fan of aliens and all the different races that could be out in our shared universe…or just like cheesy TV shows with actors with greasepaint on their faces or wearing big old rubber suits, make sure to check out the original Star Trek series as its sure to please that alien need. Check out the pictures below to see some of the aliens from the series and to show you just how different they all are from each other.

Star Trek Khan TVStar Trek GornStar Trek Salt Vampaire

One thing I need to briefly talk about is the episode called “The Devil In The Dark” that has Kirk, Spock and McCoy traveling to Janus VI, a planet that has lost over 50 miners to a creature that lives underground. As the episodes goes on, Spock learns that the creature is called a Horta after a mind meld and later finds out that the Horta is just protecting eggs that will allow its race to continue. The Horta in appearance is compared to a silicon-based lifeform that has a rock and lava look. But for me as a youngster, it reminded me of meatloaf…not the singer, the food! I can even remember eating meatloaf and joking about it being on Star Trek. I mean really look at it, it’s like meatloaf with ketchup and marshmallows on it! Compare the picture below, and you be the judge.

hortaGood Old Meatloaf

Many Trekkies considered “Star Trek: The Animated Series” to be the fourth season as many of the actors returned to lend their voices to their animated versions as well as it continued the five year mission they were on. Star Trek: The Animated Series first aired on NBC on September 8, 1973 and lasted 2 seasons and a total of 22 episodes that were 24 minute long that followed Captain Kirk and his crew of the USS Enterprise on all type of adventures in space. The series was made by a team-up between Paramount Pictures and Filmation with Gene Roddenberry overseeing its production. Filmation’s original idea for the series was to have young teen characters being cadets following the main cast around turning it into more of a straight kiddy show, Roddenberry put his foot down, and that idea was later used for the 1977 live action series Space Academy. But like all Filmation Cartoons, the budget was low, and the series suffered with poor reused animation and many other small errors. The series did have William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Majel Barrett and Nichelle Nichols all return to voice their respected characters but sadly Walter Koenig did not return as Chekov was replaced in the cartoon by two characters called Arex (a three armed thin alien) and M’Ress (a female cat person) who were a major part of the crew now. While after its run ended and some years later, the film series started, the animated series seemed to be left out of canon as many issues and characters from the toon seemed to be missing and forgotten. The series during its run was not a huge hit with kids watching Saturday Morning Cartoons, but was respected by reviewers and parents who found it entertaining. Growing up I only saw episodes on reruns as well as on VHS, and I can remember liking it but also was confused by it as by that point I had watched the live action series as well as many of the movies. Love it or hate it, Star Trek: The Animated Series is a part of Trek history, and I for one enjoy every cheesy moment of it. Those looking to watch the series it has been released on VHS, DVD and Laserdisc and from time to time pops up on Netflix.

Star Trek The Animated Series 1Star Trek The Animated Series DVDStar Trek The Animated Series 2

With the animated series being canceled in 1974, fans would have to wait for their next Star Trek fix until 1979 when Paramount released “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” to the theater going audience. The film was directed by Robert Wise and brought back all the major actors and characters from the classic series with a budget of $46 million dollars and had a run time of 132 minutes.  It also had a score from Jerry Goldsmith and was produced by Gene Roddenberry. The film brought in $82,258,456.00 and came in at # 5 for the year beating out such films as “Alien”, “The Jerk”, “The Muppet Movie”, “Moonraker”, “The Black Hole”, “Mad Max”, “Tourist Trap” and “Zombi 2” among many others. The film was met with mix reviews with many critics being down on the film’s plot that they said was too thin and spread out for over two hours, but fans were a little more behind it as they got to see their favorite characters back on a all new adventure. Growing up I can remember watching this movie and while I found it entertaining, I think mostly cause the fact it was Star Trek. I was always more drawn into “Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan” and “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock” when wanting to watch them on VHS via a library rental. I don’t want to get too much into the plot of this movie as the Marvel Comic series first 3 issues in the series are an adaptation of the film so I will save it for those. While not as well loved as many of the sequels this film started it all for the film franchise that is still going to this day.

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Star Trek also has amazing music that helped not only the TV Show but as well as the Movies! The original TV Show soundtrack was done by the likes of Sol Kaplan and Gerald Fried among others with Alexander Courage being the man behind the Original Series title theme. With the movie soundtracks being done by the likes of Jerry Goldsmith as well as other composers like James Horner, Cliff Eldelman, Leonard Rosenman and Dennis McCarthy. The most iconic theme for the films that would latter be the opening theme for Star Trek The Next Generation was done by Jerry Goldsmith and remains a very iconic piece of score music. The soundtracks for the TV Show as well as the Movies starring the original cast has been released on many different formats from Cassette Tapes to CDs and are must haves for fans of the movie and show. I for one own many of these soundtracks on CD and play them on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO many Sunday nights, one of the listeners favorites is a track called “The Mountain” off the Star Trek V: The Final Frontier soundtrack. So if you’re a score music fan, make sure to check out some of the Star Trek movie releases they are well done and great songs to relax to.

Star Trek CDStar Trek TV SoundtrackStar Trek The Motion Picture soundtrack cd

Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise have not only jumped from TV to movies but also to video games! Some of the top games starring the original cast include “Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator” was originally a arcade game and in 1984 was ported to the Atari 2600 and has you taking control of the Starship Enterprise and defend against invading Klingons. Next up “Star Trek: The Rebel Universe” for the Commodore 64, IBM PC and Atari ST in 1987 and has you take control of the bridge and try and find the secrets of the Quarantine Zone. And lastly “Star Trek: 25th Anniversary” was released in 1992 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and has you take control of Kirk, Spock and McCoy and try to solve the mystery of the tear in space-time! And of course this is just a drop in the hat of video games that was released starring the original Star Trek cast, but these three are the ones I remember best from my younger days! So what is your favorite video game starring Kirk and the crew?

Star Trek The Rebel Universe C64Star Trek Strategic Operations Simulator Atari 2600Star Trek 25th Anniversary NES

The Original Star Trek series has had its massive share of merchandise based around it and cover all types items like Halloween Costumes, Drinking Glasses, Trading Cards, Toys, Video Games, Lunch Boxes, Novels, Comic Books, Magnets, Shirts and so much more! Growing up I can remember playing a strategy board game with my Uncle Thurman that was lots of fun and I am sure we drove him mad as at my brother Bryan and I’s young age we didn’t get the rules all that well. Growing up I also had a Captain Kirk 3 ¾” Mego action figure I got from a garage sale that joined my Toy Wars alongside Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures. I also when a youngster owned many of the Novels and Book and Record sets based on the TV Show and Movies as well as some of the Marvel Comics. Funny enough early this year while working at Game Swap a young lady brought in a large box filled with vintage Star Trek figures and toys and what was really neat was seeing the Mego dolls mint in package! So if you’re a fan of Spock, Kirk or any of the other crew members of the Enterprise many amazing products are out in the world for you to collect.

MEGO Star Trek dollsStar Trek LunchboxStar Trek Novel original cast

Playmates was a major force when I was a kid in bringing action figures into the hands of the youth with such toy lines as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Toxic Crusaders, Dick Tracy, Darkwing Duck, Monster Force, Barnyard Commandos, The Addams Family, Earthworm Jim to name a few and also on this iconic list is Star Trek! The toy line for Star Trek mostly focused on Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as the newer TV series that followed like Deep Space Nine and Voyager, but also in the line was the original series that showcased some of the characters in their younger selves and in some waves them older. While I had maybe a couple when I was a kid the older I got for some reason I started to collect them, I bought myself all the original series crew as well as Voyager and Juliet the Next Generations crew and together we have gotten many of the Deep Space Nine crew members. The Playmates figures for some reason have a collectable appeal for me and as I find them cool looking and the fact they covered not only the Starfleet crew but also many of the aliens from the past to the then present. Below is a picture of my original crew figures as well as some of the Aliens from their show and movies.

My Original Star Trek Playmates Figures

You know what just for the fun of it and cause I love going back and playing old NES games on my trusty old RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) I picked the day May 25, 2016 to just play around and try to see how far I could get in Star Trek: 25th Anniversary in just 1 hours of play! Now this game is one I played when I was younger and never could get very far as I have found it to be a very hard play, but will it be as difficult as I remember? The weather outside was around 84 degrees with the sun pocking out from some hazy clouds, I decided to go up against the game around 6pm and stop at 7pm and see just how far in the game I could get! So with a tall glass of water I was ready to travel to 8-Bit space. I started these two hours with big dreams and hope that I would make it far and to no one’s shock I didn’t make it off the first level…as frustration of playing the same opening stage sent me into a poor game play frenzy! At first I forgot that the Blood Worms can hurt you if you don’t bring the flower to the medicine man of the village and then after getting the eye key and once in the tunnel I kept screwing up the patterns you had to memorize on the wall to get through the doors and by the time 7am came around I was still on the first level! During my little 8-Bit quest my landing Party was me as Kirk and always Spock but sometimes I would switch McCoy with a Security Officer. The game play on this game is a little clunky and has your characters follow a grid to get from point A to pint B. Still as challenging as I remember and I recommend old school gamers to give this one a try, as it’s a fun play that offers enough tough moments to make for long time play. Below is some pictures I took while playing the game.

Star Trek 25th Anniversary NES in the RESStar Trek 25th Anniversary NES RES Still 1Star Trek 25th Anniversary NES Res Still 2

Want to just touch up on this as I fell many Trekkies will agree that there is nothing more sexy than a woman who embraces geeky culture like Comic Books, Video Games and Science Fiction Films/Shows and a woman in a Starfleet uniform is pretty top notch stuff. I mean who could resist the beauty of my favorite cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty dressed as a Starfleet officer? I know I cant! But I just wanted to let all you true nerd girls out in the world that you are appreciated and keep being you!

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So before we get into the Marvel Comic Star Trek Original Crew Series I would like to take a brief moment and just kind of give you a crash course of the main crew members of the USS Enterprise, I feel that many of you all ready know and love the characters but I figured on a slim chance their could be some newbies reading this update to the Star Trek universe I should do my duty and educate you with some slight knowledge and research. So sit back and relax and get to know the crew of the Enterprise, as I will guarantee that by the end they will seem like old friends.

Captain James Tiberius Kirkwilliam shatner

James Tiberius Kirk is the Captain of the USS Enterprise, he was born in Riverside, Iowa and as a youngster witnessed a massacre that claimed 4,000 lives by the hands of a madman. Kirk went on to join the Starfleet Academy and became the only person to every pass the Kobayashi Maru test that was designed to be unbeatable; he did so by thinking outside the box and reprograming it! He survived on many ships and even thought a class at the Academy all the while getting promotions until finally becoming the youngest Captain in Starfleet history! Kirk took over the USS Enterprise for a five year mission, and along this journey he made friends and lots of enemies as Kirk always did what was right. Kirk is also a ladies man as he has hooked up with not only human women but also a few aliens! Kirk is noble, cocky, adventures and smart and has earned the love and respect of his crew as well as higher ups of StarFleet even though he tends to break lots of rules and disobey orders. Actor William Shatner played Captain Kirk in the series who is also known for his TV Roles in shows like T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911, The Practice and TekWorld! Shatner is an icon for Sci-Fi fans and remains active in acting even at his age of 85!

Chief Science Officer SpockLeonard Nimoy

Spock is Vulcan who’s mother is human and this gives him slight emotions, something that full blooded Vulcans find illogical! His father is the very wise and highly respected Sarek, who loves his son but also finds his friendships on the Enterprise odd. On the U.S.S. Enterprise Spock has two roles: science officer and first officer and is best friend to Captain Kirk and will do whatever it takes to keep the ship and its crew safe and is very loyal to the Starfleet, Spock even gave his own life to save the lives of the crew when Kahn attacked the ship causing a radiation leak. After being reborn thanks to the Genesis Project, he rejoins the crew and takes his position on the Enterprise again and later becomes a federation ambassador where he tries to patch up the relationship between them and later also tries to help Romulus from a supernova that leaves him trapped in a parallel timeline. Actor Leonard Nimoy played Spock in the series who is also known for his TV roles in such shows as Mission: Impossible, In Search Of, Ancient Mysteries and Fringe. Sadly on February 27, 2015 the world lost Nimoy from complications of COPD. Leonard Nimoy was and still is a icon of geek culture and beyond.

Dr Leonard Bones McCoyDeforest Kelley

Leonard H. “Bones” McCoy is the medical officer for the USS Enterprise and is also very close friends with Captain Kirk. He is divorced and would later marry Natira, the priestess of Yonada, and has one daughter. McCoy at one point has to take the essence of Spock who has passed away and return it to his body on the planet Vulcon in order to return his friend and some time verbal punching bag Spock back to full life. While he gets annoyed with Spock and his logical ways, it’s clear throughout the series and movies that he really does care about him and looks at him as a good friend. While he is good at what he does in the medical field,  McCoy can be very tense and can get very angry when requests are made he feels is impossible or to demanding. One thing that has eaten away at McCoy his whole life is the fact he helped his father commit suicide when he was gravely ill, and after his father’s death a cure was found that would have cured him. McCoy is a loyal sometimes cranky crew member who is the best damn medical doctor you could ever ask for, and later in his Star Fleet career he would become an Admiral. Actor DeForest Kelley played McCoy in the series who is also known for his roles in such TV shows as The Lone Ranger, Route 66 and Bonanza among many other western shows. Kelley would sadly pass away on June 11, 1999 at the age of 79 from stomach cancer. The world lost a great character actor and one of my favorite characters of the Star Trek universe.

Commander Montgomery %22Scotty%22 ScottJames Doohan

Montgomery “Scotty” Scott acts as the Enterprise’s second officer and chief engineer and is truly the man who makes the star ship come alive and keeps up the maintenance and acts as the miracle worker when things need to be fixed in a pinch or even under pressure of battle. While many of the crew are his close friends, he looks at the Enterprise as a son and treats it with high respect and acts as if the ship is truly his responsibility. When both Kirk and Spock are off ship, Scotty becomes the acting commander of the ship, even though he would rather just be the ship’s engineer. After his retirement from the Star Fleet, Scotty gets aboard a shuttle that crashes in a Dyson Sphere and uses the transporter to store himself in the buffer for decades and is recovered by the USS Enterprise-D and its commander Captain Picard, and even in the future he saves the ship he loves one last time. Smart, witty and lovable, Scotty is a guy who is loyal to his fellow crew members and his ship. Actor James Doohan played Scotty in the original series and is also known for his TV roles in Encounter, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The F.B.I. to name a few. Sadly in 1994 James Doohan passed away at the age of 85 from pulmonary fibrosis. Scotty is a great character and really is the blood that keeps the star ship up and running.

Lieutenant Hikaru SuluGeorge Takei

Hikaru Sulu is the third officer, a Lieutenant and senior helmsman of the USS Enterprise and later becomes a Captain and commands the USS Excelsior. Sulu is very wise and good at what he does and has pulled the starship out of danger many times. He is a master of fencing, botany and gymnastics and when need be could and has taken control of the Enterprise as acting officer in charge. Sulu would later in life go on to have a daughter named Demora Sulu who as well is working for Star Fleet. Actor George Takei plays Sulu in the original series and also starred in such TV Shows as Batman Beyond, The Simpsons and Archer to name a very select few. Takei is still active in acting and even runs his own social media that is filled with some funny thoughts and posts.  He is 79 years old as of this update going up.

Lieutenant Nyota UhuraNichelle Nichols

Nyota Uhura is a lieutenant and chief communications officer for the Enterprise and is well respected for her talents and skills. She is skilled at singing and has entertained her fellow shipmates with songs during off duty get togethers. During her time with the Federation, she has been promoted to lieutenant commander and then full commander later on. She as well as the rest of the crew also get in trouble when they disobey orders to get the reborn body of Spock off Genesis and goes back to just being communications officer under Kirk’s crew. It’s implied that she and Scotty might have been romantic together and in the new Trek universe she is dating/romantic with Spock. Actress Nichelle Nichols plays Uhura in the original series, and she has also been on TV shows like Futurama, Batman The Animated Series and Heroes. While slowed down, Nichelle is still active as an actress and is 83 years old as of this update posting.

Ensign Pavel ChekovWalter Koenig

Pavel Andreievich Chekov is the navigator for the Enterprise and is super smart and an honor graduate from the Space Academy. When needed he can also fill in as the ship’s science officer when Spock is away and is very capable of doing so. He later gets promoted to a lieutenant as well as tactical officer and chief of security. He is loyal to Captain Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew and even helped Kirk hijack the Enterprise so they could get the newly reborn Spock off of the Genesis planet. Actor Walter Koenig played Chekov in the original series and also made appearances in such shows as Ben Casey, Columbo and Babylon 5. Koenig is still active as an actor and is 79 years old as of this update’s posting.

Nurse Christine ChapelMajel Barrett

Christine Chapel is the head nurse of the Enterprise and works under the orders of Dr. McCoy. She mostly stays on the ship when others explore planets but has left from time to time. While originally she was trying to work things out with her fiancé Dr. Roger Korby, his disappearance left her without a man, and she began finding herself having feelings for Spock.  The fling would end up going nowhere. Later in her career, she becomes a doctor aboard the Enterprise and later is stationed at the Starfleet headquarters. Actress Majel Barrett played Chapel.  She was the married to show creator Gene Roddenberry and appeared as the voice for the computers in many of the Star Trek shows and movies. Barrett passed away in 2008 from leukemia.  She was 76 years old.

Spock Kirk Scotty

So that was just a very brief look at the crew of the USS Enterprise and many great facts and achievements from them have been left out of this quick look as I really think that if you have never watched this show or movies, you really should check them out for yourself as they are truly great science fiction watches. So I guess we should beam onto the Marvel Comic series based on Star Trek’s original crew, and I should also thank Mavericks Cards And Comics, Bell Book And Comic, Dark Star and Lone Star Comics for having issues in stock so that I could do this review. I am also getting a message from my communicator from Kirk telling 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 i’s art and story. So if you’re wearing a red shirt, you might want to change out of it now as it’s time to go on 18 missions with the crew of the USS Enterprise. So beam us to it Scotty!

Marvel Star Trek 1

Star Trek # 1  ***
Released in 1980    Cover Price .40    Marvel    #1 of 18

A powerful light cloud being is floating in space and is destroying ships and what ever else gets in its way! It’s been years sense the USS Enterprise went on a mission and Kirk is able to finally talk his way back into becoming the Captain of it once more and is setting out to try and stop what ever this thing is from reaching anymore planets, his crew has many familiar faces on board like Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura as well as some new faces including Captain Decker who is forced out of running the ship and into a officer role on this mission by Starfleet and Kirk who is taking over causing some major heat between the two. At the Enterprise Crew meeting they watch in horror live as a space station is attacked and just vanishes thanks to the light cloud! And worse just before this the teleport was not ready on the remodeled Enterprise and many new crew members lost their lives, and this brings aboard a “drafted” Dr. McCoy who was retired and Ilia a Deltan who will act as the ships navigator on this dangerous mission. Decker and Ilia know each other and its clear that this once Captain had a relationship with her. While taking off on their mission the Enterprise gets stuff in a wormhole along side a meteor and Decker over rides Kirks command to use Phasers and uses torpedo’s instead and this saves the ship damage and gets them out of the wormhole but also causes even more of a rift between the two Captains! Once safe and back on track a small ship asks to board the Enterprise and to Kirks shock and joy the pilot of the small ship is Spock!

This Marvel Comic series starts off with an adaptation of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and to be honest it was a wise choice as it was a great way to showcase the crew as well as bring everyone up to date on what was happing with the original crew. Plus it also helped add to the amazing over all enjoyment this comic reader and Trekkie had relaxing and reading it and remembering back to the first time I had seen the movie as well as read this issue in my younger days. The story this far has Admiral Kirk hooking and crooking his way back into becoming the Captain of the Enterprise that is being sent out on a important mission to stop an unknown cloud object from reaching the planet that its two days away from. Throw in some drama between the ships former Captain as well as some old relationship baggage and your have this issue in a nutshell. Captain Kirk in this issue is a man on a mission and his mission is not just save people from the unknown that’s heading their way but to also get command of the Enterprise once more. Kirk is as cocky as ever but it’s clear he is slightly outdated when it comes to all the improvements that have been made to his ship. Captain Decker is a man of pride and he feels betrayed by Kirk and Star Fleet as he is taken off Captain duty and forced to serve under the man who weaseled the position away from him, but Decker is also a slime ball when it comes to his love life as its reveled that he just up and left Ilia without even so much as a goodbye. Speaking of Ilia she is straight business and wants to do the best at her job, but while she puts on a strong front it’s clear she was hurt by Decker’s past behavior. Dr. McCoy is upset that he was forced back into active duty as he was enjoying retirement, but quickly comes around when he sees that his good friend Kirk is the one who really wanted his help on this mission. Spock starts the issue off on his home planet trying to ride himself of emotions that his human side has and soon finds he cannot and returns to the Enterprise unannounced and is a sight for sore eyes for his friends. The rest of the original crew Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura all are present but are background players. The Cloud Light Thing in the sky is clearly a force to be wreckend with as it not only takes down a federation station but also a Klingon ship! What is this cloud…I guess we will have to read more issues to find out! The plot while slow is a good way to reintroduce the crew to fans as well as to new readers and that’s why it was wise to kick this series off with the film adaptation as it was the new Trek product out and could help kick of Trek-Mania for youngsters of 1980. The cover is cool and eye catching for classic Science Fiction fans and the art inside done by the team of Dave Cockrum & Klaus Janson (Inks) and is pretty great stuff with most the characters looking close to the actors who played them. Over all a great solid first issue to kick off Marvels Star Trek series and makes me really looking forward to the next mission…I mean issue.

Marvel Star Trek 2

Star Trek # 2  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .40   Marvel   #2 of 18

Captain Kirk welcomes Spock back into the crew as he takes his place as the science officer, but while everyone is happy to see him, Spock shows no emotions toward them and this causes some tension between he and McCoy. Spock also helps Scotty figure out a way to save fuel and go into warp drive and while flying they run into the cloud that attacks! After a very powerful blast the Enterprise is in trouble until they are able to send the cloud a message of peace and that attacks stops leaving them puzzled and relieved that the cloud has given up its aggression. As the Enterprise flies through the cloud the find at in the middle is a ship so huge its like nothing they have ever seen before, and worse a living energy comes aboard and kills a security officer and tries to steal the ships records and when Spock tries to stop it Ilia gets the beings rage and it makes her vanish into thin air. The alien cloud ship then pulls the Enterprise into its docking and sends a robotic version of Ilia onto the ship who is suppose to record the everyday functions of humans for a master named V’ger, while the real Ilia is deceased this robot has her memories and Kirk decides that Decker should be her guide on the ship hoping that the relationship between the two can help take it off course for Earth as it’s now only six hours away! In the end Spock lurks in the shadows and gives a crew member the Vulcan nerve pinch and the issue ends leaving us not knowing why he did his action.

This second issue in the Movie Adaptation part is the set up for what the story is really about as we learn the cloud is really around a giant ship that is a beings named V’ger who records and loves knowledge. The Enterprise is the only hope for Earth as they are the only ones who have gotten this close to the ship and have the key to maybe save Earth in the forum of the robotic Ilia. Captain Kirk is as sure of himself as ever and his war of words and control with Decker rises to anger in this issue as every suggestion Decker gives the Captain is ignored and this even leads to Ilia being killed causing tension between the to very hostile. The thing is Kirk is not listening to Decker but is listening to Spock who he trusts and who he doesn’t feel intimidated by, and worse Kirk orders Decker to be the guide to the robotic Ilia and try to charm this machine with the memories of his one time lover in order to save Earth. Dr. McCoy is the man who figures out the make up of the robot and is the possible key to save them all if they can teach the machine to bring the message back to it’s master that people deserve to live. Bring the question who or what is V’ger and why does he want to combine with the “Creator” and if he does what does this mean for the universe? This is the main question that should and was on the minds of readers of this comic. While besides Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Decker the rest of the crew have small parts but are all very important to the issue as their actions and jobs move the plot along. The Science Fiction action is high in this issue as we get a space battle as well as a semi fight with an alien energy being that leaves two crew members dead. Plus the issue ends on a cliffhanger as Spock knocks out one of his own fellow crew and his reasoning is left with the message “Continued Next Issue”! The issues cover is pretty great and has the energy being reeking havoc on the Enterprise bridge and the art inside is once more done by Dave Cockrum who does a solid job of capturing the actors likeness in some shots, while in others his art seems a little rushed. Over all a solid issue that moves the plot along and is doing a good job of capturing the mood and feel of the movie it’s based on. So lets get to issue three and see why Spock did what he did and who or what V’ger is!

Marvel Star Trek 3

Star Trek # 3  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .40   Marvel   #3 of 18

Decker is trying all he can to get to the memories of Ilia who is very robotic and just wants more and more data for her master V’ger who plans on absorbing the crew after he gets the information he seeks. Meanwhile Spock has knocked out his fellow crew member so that he could get into a space suit and float into the center of the ship that he has figured out is V’ger! Kirk goes out after Spock and they find the V’ger breaks down all that is kills and stores it as part of it’s own being, and when Spock attempts to mind meld with it and is overloaded with its power but finds the V’ger is a living machine that comes from a planet of living machines and his quest is to find out the meaning of its life as well as find God to get the answers. V’ger has reached Earth and is about to kill all humans living on it but Kirk as an idea and says he has the answers its looking for and after a small outburst V’ger allows the Enterprise to enter into it’s main brain frame were Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker and the robot Ilia exit the ship and find the V’ger is really a missing NASA satellite called the Voyager Six that went missing 300 years ago and that its real creator is man! Decker enters the satellite’s missing code ending its reign of terror as it now has the answers its seeks but this turns Decker and Ilia into light beings and the next evolution for mankind. In the end Kirk and the Enterprise crew have saved the day and head into space for many more adventures.

The movie adaptation ends here and has Kirk and the crew having to use their wits and knowledge to stop the destruction of Earth. So V’ger is really just a missing NASA satellite that 300 years ago did not get to fulfill its mission of sending back data is collected to the space station after it was lost in a black hole. So in reality many people lost their lives all over a satellite that could not share its data with NASA. Kirk is very quick with his plan as he is able to save the Earth by bluffing and then able to prove that man is V’ger’s creator when he comes up with the code that is needed to unload its data. Decker is also a hero as he manually enters the code after they learn the satellite has been damaged and this causes Decker to become something more than human and as well be with Ilia forever. Spock who was having issues of his own due to his failed test on Vulcon has his answers and at one point cries for V’ger who will not truly have his. The nice touch to the end of the comic is that the Enterprise heads out into space looking for more adventures and is the perfect set up for this Marvel Comic series. The cover is great and has The Enterprise in battle showcasing the ship and what it can do, the inside art is once more done by Dave Cockrum and is fitting and better looking than issue two. Marvel Comics did a great job of adapting this film into a comic and I could say that in the 80’s and 90’s no one did these types of comics as good as Marvel. So with this Motion Picture adaptation out of the way lets see what new adventures the Marvel Bullpen have in store for us.

Marvel Star Trek 4

Star Trek # 4  ***
Released in 1980    Cover Price .40    Marvel    #4 of 18

The Enterprise has been selected to transport an alien named Raytag M’Gora who is insane and was captured and must be returned to prison that he escaped from. Also on this mission they must play host to Ambassador R’Kgg who’s people are open to negations with the federation, while Kirk don’t mind given the Ambassador a ride he is very angry about the prisoner as his ship is not set up to transport a crazed alien like that. While beaming Raytag M’Gora aboard the alien breaks free and runs amok until Spock is able to use the Vulcan Nerve Pinch to knock him out and place him into his cell. Raytag M’Gora begs Kirk not to return him to the prison planet as he claims it’s a terrible place and it is what drove him mad and warns them if they get to close to the area he will not be the only prisoner! The closer they get crew members begin to see werewolves and monsters with Sulu and Chekov seeing a ghost. Kirk don’t know what to make of these supernatural sightings but believes his crew and soon comes face to face with Count Dracula who appears on the bridge and knocks security around before disappearing, adding to the mystery that is unfolding on the Enterprise. As Dracula escapes he makes his way to Ambassador R’Kgg and kills him, and after doing so the evil visions disappear until the Enterprise finds a Haunted House planet and Kirk, Spock, McCoy and other crew members beam down and find a young woman being attacked by Frankenstein’s Monster! They are able to defeat the Monster but soon find themselves surrounded by monsters and the young blonde woman tells them she has been held prisoner there for a long time and wants to leave. But no one is leaving as well armed Klingons appears and take the landing party prisoners and send a message to acting commander Scotty that they have his friends and want the ship turned over. In the cell Raytag M’Gora lets out a crazy laugh as our issues ends.

The Crew of the Enterprise vs. the monsters is the best way to describe this fun and entertaining issue, and while it does not feel like a Star Trek episode it does feel like an episode of the animated series mixed with Scooby-Doo. The plot has Kirk and crew getting tricked into a Haunted House world while trying to deliver a alien prisoner back to prison and it appears that the illusions and plan was that of the Klingons who hate the federation and want to see Kirk and his crew pay for crimes they feel the universe has infected them with. Kirk is right to not want to take this mission as the ship and crew was not prepared for the evil and madness that waited them during this one. Spock tries his best to put logic to what he is seeing as many of the monsters that appeared were based on legend of Earth’s novels and ghost stories, but he is also the one who finds that the monsters are made of a living organism. Ambassador R’Kgg seemed like a good natured alien and while killed supposedly by Dracula I think there is more to R’Kgg than what we have seen in this issue and almost think he is playing possum on the words of Raytag M’Gora who was the last person he talked to. Speaking of Raytag M’Gora while I think he is crazy and has a violent streak in him, I do think he was trying to warn the Enterprise of what was awaiting them at the Haunted House planet. Plus who is this young blonde woman and why is she in this Haunted House world? Nice to see that the Klingons are the ones behind this set up and fake haunted planet, as it makes sense that they would do whatever they can to capture Kirk and his crew. Not to mention a highlight for this Monster Kid comic reader is the fact that Dracula from the Marvel Comic series Tomb Of Dracula has a cameo as the issues also has a werewolf, ghost, grim reaper and Frankenstein’s Monster to name a few of the ghouls who attack. While again it does not feel like the TV Show nor the movie that spawned this series it does have a nice comic book feel to it and that’s what makes it fun. The cover is cool and the art is still being done by Dave Cockrum making this solid and fun issue for this reader. While again many of the crew take small roles its great to see Kirk and Spock take on monsters even if they are not real and makes me look forward to how this mission will work out for them, so lets not wait and move onto issue five.

Marvel Star Trek 5

Star Trek # 5   **1/2
Released in 1980   Cover Price .40   Marvel   #5 of 18

The Klingons to show Kirk on this Haunted House planet they mean business kill one of his crew members as everyone watches on unable to help. They then turn on Kirk and the crew and take Spock hostage and they beam up to their Bird-Of-Pray were they tell Spock that he is the only one that will survive from the Enterprise as they have orders to kill the crew and take the ship to learn how it’s new warp drive works! While Kirk and his crew deal with the unknown woman they beamed aboard that they find out is not human and worse the Kingons attack their warp drives and leaves the Enterprise stranded in that location! Spock finds out that the “Monsters” that are attacking his fellow crew members is due in part to a man who was a Horror Movie archivist who is being used as a weapon by The Klingons! Working with the Klingons on this take over mission is Raytag M’Gora who has a projector implanted in his skull that helps bring the monsters to the ship, and we also find out that the unknown woman is the image of the “weapons” wife! Spock figures out and is able to warn The Enterprise to destroy the image of the woman that triggers the archivist to wake up that in turn over loads the projector inside Raytag M’Gora killing him and sending the monsters to the Klingons ship! Spock and the Archivist beam aboard the Enterprise and they leave the area and complete there mission and deliver the dead body of Raytag to the prison planet.

The monsters of the movies run wild on the Enterprise thanks to a horror movie fan! The plot of this issue has The Klingons using a new weapon they developed that allows a persons fears to come to life against the Enterprise so they can take over the ship and learn new federation secrets, but thanks to the brilliant mind of Spock the plan not only fails but also backfires as they become the target of the monsters. Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise Crew are helpless in this saga as The Klingons dismantle their warp drive, take Spock hostage and have the monsters under their control, but I should say while the odds were grim Kirk very lost the fighting spirit. Spock meanwhile even as a hostage keeps his wits just like all Vulcans would and is the brains behind turning the tables on his captures. The Klingons are cold-blooded killers and not only murder one Star Fleet security officer but also have plans in place to kill everyone on the Enterprise! The monsters while just made real by imagination and memories are still a force of destruction and murder, and the poor sap who is creating them is just a pawn in a sick game of ship stealing. Raytag as well is a pawn but a willing one as he felt by helping the Klingons they could save him from a fate of being a prisoner the rest of his life, as for the mystery woman she is just a sad case as she is just the memory of the Archivist’s murdered wife. The classic banter between Spock and McCoy is present in this issue and that’s always fun to read as it really made me flashback to many of the scenes from the films were the two were at odds over silly disagreements or just McCoy not understanding the lack of emotions of Vulcans. While this was a silly plot for the most part I still found myself enjoying reading it and wondering what adventures the Enterprise would have next. Being five issues in I must also say that my favorite character has to be Spock as while not done perfect and for some reason is slightly off he seems to shine more than most the other crew members. Kirk is great just as is McCoy but while they are as well close to their movie and show characters they still are slightly off. The art in this issue is done by Dave Cockrum again and while it is good for some reason some panels seem off as in one panel has Kirk looking like a pig face version of The Phantom Of The Opera and another has McCoy looking like a bug eyed monster, very odd a very sloppy. The cover is great and eye catching and leaves you wanting to see why McCoy is killing a woman with a phaser. Over all a slightly above average comic adventure of the crew of the Enterprise that leaves you wanting to see what the next adventure awaits us.

Marvel Star Trek 6

Star Trek # 6  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #6 of 18

The Enterprise is picked to escort Ambassador Phral of the planet Yannid VI to a signing that will allow them to join the federation, but after the transporter has an issue and when Phral appears onboard he has a knife in his back and is dead! Kirk calls the palace on Yannid VI and they confirm that the Ambassador was alive and well when he left to beam aboard The Enterprise and this could cause major issues of them joining the Federation. Kirk assigns Spock and McCoy to try and figure out what happened while he tries to talk peace and confirm that they will find the murderer of their citizen. While investigating Spock and McCoy find lots of odd details about this murder like that fact it appears he has dead 15 minutes before he was beamed up as well as all video of the beam up is missing due to a power surge. Tension is running wild on Yannid VI as many of the people want to join the Federation while others want to join the Klingons and this becomes dangerous when Sulu, Chekov and a female crew member DiFalco are attacked at a bar and are able to escaped when they are beamed aboard the Enterprise. Kirk has been very edgy sense the death of the Ambassador even snapping at his crew and finally comes clean and tells them about when he was younger he on accident shot Phral on a rescue mission that at the time was a prince and put the would be ruler into a coma making him miss his turn of ruling. Spock has news for the Captain as he thinks the body on the ship is that of an imposter set up by the real Phral who wants revenge on Kirk and wants to start a new life. Kirk, Spock and McCoy put on disguises and beam down to Yannid to find a famed plastic surgeon as they think she might be helping him on this set up, but she is killed and Kirk and crew are found by the Prince and his guards who blame them for the death of the Doctor as well as the Ambassador! Spock using his logical mind is able to trick Phral who has had plastic sugary into exposing his true idientity and this clears Kirk of wrong doing as well helps Yannid VI in joining the Federation as they see Kirk and crew are men of their word.

Spock does it again as just like Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy or Batman he uses logic and great detective skills to solve a crime of murder, set up and betrayal. This issues plot is this an Ambassador who is to sign for his planet to join the federation and who has bad blood with Kirk is killed while beaming aboard the Enterprise and this leads to Kirk being the prime suspect and puts a strain on them joining the greater cause of peace with the Federation, but thanks to McCoy and Spock they are able to find the answers to who is the real killer and expose a plan that would have not only caused Kirk to loose his career but also could have caused war! Kirk is a man with lots of stress and some guilt as he feels like an accident when he was a young Star Fleet member left a man who was to be King in a coma making him loss his chance at ruling, not to mention he was sent to save the Prince and in turn is the one who ended up hurting him. But while Kirk is short tempered he still does his job and puts his two best crew members on the case to solve who set this murder up. Spock and McCoy are fast and solve the case in short time as all the evidence don’t add up and they are onto the twisted plan that was put into place thanks to video from Yannid and the body onboard. Nice to see Sulu and Chekov get to show off a little as they sword fight off their attackers in the bar! Ambassador Phral is a bitter, greedy and lying man who set up his own “death” in order to get away with stolen money. His actions caused a Civil War on his home planet as well as could have caused a war with the Federation! Not to mention he murdered a doctor as well as some poor soul to get away with his crimes, but thanks to Spock and McCoy his cover is blown and he is taken away for punishment. This was another great adventure and love that Sherlock Holmes reference and feel to it, not to mention McCoy gets to deliver “She’s Dead Jim” during the books final. The cover is ok and nothing special and the art is done by Dave Cockrum again and is pretty good, I should also note that Marvel’s Editor In Chief at this time was the one and only Jim Shooter! To sum it up a good issue that made for a fun read that blended Science Fiction with Detective touches that entertained for sure.

Marvel Star Trek 7

Star Trek # 7   **1/2
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #7 of 18

The Enterprise is sent to a planet that in a short time will be surrounded by a poisoned cloud that will leave its 200 residents dead and the world un-livable. Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy and two security officers beam down to the planet to try and talk to its people to come with them in order to survive. Once on the planet Kirk and crew soon find that the simple minded aliens have been awaiting them and have giant statues built of the crew members in town that have been their for millenniums, and worse they will not leave as they think Kirk, Spock and McCoy will protect them from the approaching death cloud. While Scotty takes control of the Enterprise and tries to disrupt the cloud with phasers and fail Kirk, McCoy and Spock follow a alien who is about to evolve and find that these aliens are very smart and when Spock mind melds with the alien he finds that the planet has a defense system that defeats the cloud and that this alien race can see the future and as our crew leaves they have more questions than answers.

A planet is in danger over a dangerous cloud and Kirk and crew must try and stop it and save the alien race that dwells on the planet is the plot of this issue and while solid and good it does kind of feel like a throw away issue, as the dangerous cloud has a been there done that feel to it. The threat seems high for the crew as always as they must risk their own necks in order to do their job for being the saviors of the universes. The Alien race are simple weird looking creatures who are all kind hearted, but while they seem dim witted they are in fact slightly more intelligent than they appear and can also see into the future. Kirk in this issue goes to the planet to try and talk to it’s people about beaming aboard the Enterprise in order to survive but finds himself stuck on the planet and death approaching and must send his own ship and crew on what could be a suicide mission in attacking the cloud to try and break it up! Kirk is under lots of pressure but as always he holds his cool and helps lead the charge in everyone’s survival. McCoy and the security guards are just around and don’t offer too much to this issue but are at least cool to see around. Scotty steps up this issue and burns his hands bad trying to beam down Kirk and his landing party even after he warned them this was not a good idea and as well takes control of the Enterprise and tries his best to defeat the cloud and protect his fellow crew members. Spock is the true hero once more as his actions and quick thinking is what saves the day and gives him the idea of pulling a lever that activated the planets defense. The Cloud is just that a cloud that floats around space and spreads poisoned air and radiation to planets it passes by. The cover is pretty great and is very eye catching and the art inside is done by Mike Nasser and is really good! Over all a good issue but nothing special.

Marvel Star Trek 8

Star Trek # 8  **1/2
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #8 of 18

The Mox an alien race has attacked The Enterprise and has the ship in a force field that is also sending out electronic waves that is driving the crew mad with massive headaches as well as is draining their weapons and warp drives of energy and if this continues to much longer the ship will explode. Kirk and crew are in bad shape and when Spock is kidnapped and beamed aboard the enemy ship it is now not only a battle for survival but also now a rescue mission. Kirk, McCoy, Chekov as well as a few fellow crew members beam down to a near by planet that is populated by The Mox and start their rescue mission as the Enterprise is still in a bad way in space. While on the planet they are attacked with older style weapons from guns to spears and find another race is on the planet that as well are after The Mox! On the ship Professor Fowler is dying from a heart element as Dr. Christine Chapel tries to explain to her that the ship is stuck due to an attack and her life is in danger as she needs a heart transplant! On the planet Kirk soon finds out that the aliens that attacked them are called The Orgs and they are on a mission to attack The Mox who are really robots who are at war with the Orgs who they find threatening as they are battling over the planet they both share. In the end Spock is able to use his skills to free the Enterprise from the force field that was holding it and in turn Kirk uses the ships phasers to stun all The Orgs and with the help of Professor Fowler who sneaks herself onto the planet she with her new robotic heart is able to bring peace between The Mox and The Orgs and this mission comes to an end.

The war between machines and humanoids takes place in this Star Trek issue as they cant get along as one wants what the other has and the other lives in fear of what the other wants to take away. Kirk and the crew are under attack as well as The Mox who are the machines go on the attack and hold them at bay as they want to steal Spock who they think can talk to some simple creatures who have strong psychic powers that live on the planet and think they can protect them from the attacking Orgs who are planning to go to total war that night, so as you can see once more Spock is the main hero who not only helps The Enterprise escape the force field trap that is about to blow up the ship from the pressure but also helps stop the war that is about to break out. So what I have learned these eight issues so far is that while Captain Kirk is in charge the really hero in Marvel Comics eyes was Spock. Professor Fowler is a character who is very sick and is in need of a heart transplant who for some reason gets a second wind knocks out several crew members, hijacks the transporter room and beams herself to the planet as the war is going on, is able to get a robotic heart and stay on the planet and brings peace to the two feuding sides. But really you could have cut Fowler out and the story would have been just as impactful and a little less mashed up feeling. The cover has Spock being surrounded by The Mox and is ok and the art inside is done by the team of Dave Cockrum & Ricardo Villamonte and looks pretty good and the characters look like the actors pretty well. Over all another fun issue and shows that Star Trek and Marvel Comics made a good team to bring entertaining issues to readers hands.

Marvel Star Trek 9

Star Trek # 9  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #9 of 18

The Enterprise is heading for some down time and while heading back to a base station they find a missing federation ship named the Endeavor that has been missing for 22 years! They try to communicate with the ghost ship and get no response, but they do get attacked by the ship and must defend themselves and shot down the attacking ship. Once the Endeavor is down Kirk and crew beam aboard it and find the crew all long dead and killed by phaser shots, and worse one of the Enterprise crew members becomes possessed and tries to murder his friends! Spock and McCoy get the possessed crew member under control and they all head back aboard The Enterprise and learn from the ghost ships logs that a madness swept the ship and caused people to become murderous and savage after picking up an 89 year old woman who was supposed to have died at the age of 36 who is the grand mother of Enterprise crew member Karen Hester who is a zoologist and one time lover of Captain Kirk. The mission is clear now and Kirk along with Spock, McCoy and fellow crew head to the freezing cold planet and find that it held a secret and illegal lab that was conducting transporter beam experiments that caused many deaths and the possessed crew members have the spirit of those who died being guanine pigs and want to kill Karen as she is related to the head doctor who conducted these experiments. In the end Kirk figures out a way to trap the possessed spirits that call themselves Unity on the planet and blows up the secret lab with them inside and in the end the infected crew members are getting better and Karen transfers off The Enterprise as she still loves Kirk and knows she has to let him go.

This feels like an episode of the classic Star Trek series as the plot has a ghost Starfleet ship being taken over by the spirits of people who were killed during transporter experiments and now want revenge against the doctor who conducted them, who has long been dead and they confuse her relative and currant Enterprise crew member as their target and its up to Kirk to save the day. The Unity is the spirits and by all accounts they are very dangerous as they can force living people to turn on each other in fits of rage and don’t care about anything else besides revenge. Kirk is calm and shows why he is the captain of the Enterprise as he is quick witted and able to trick The Unity to it’s death as well as saves his infected crew members from a death that would be right around the corner, so for this issue Kirk is the true hero! Karen Hester is a woman who while a member of the Federation is really just hung up on Kirk as she dated him for three years and can not get over the fact they broke up, she is an interesting character as he grandmother was responsible for the deaths that made up The Unity. The rest of the crew are around and play background characters very well and add their own touches to the adventures that unfolds before us readers eyes. The cool thing about this issue is that it allows Kirk to be the hero and not Spock like so many other issues in this series has allowed. The cover is pretty cool as The Unity looks great, but the crew members look pretty sloppy. The art is done by Dave Cockrum & Frank Springer and looks good and fitting for this sci-fi comic based on a TV Show and Movie. Over all issue nine is really solid and one that was a great read and captured the mood and feel of Star Trek really well.

Marvel Star Trek 10

Star Trek # 10  **1/2
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #10 of 18

Captain Kirk is getting over the flu and worse the planet the Enterprise is researching is surrounded by magnetic fields and a ground team must take some readings form it’s surface. Spock and McCoy volunteer and after crashing on the planet thanks to the magnetic field they soon find themselves without a way to communicate with the Enterprise and have even stumbled upon a primitive race that is about to sacrifice a woman named Shulu to the dragon god, and after she escapes their grip she runs into Spock and McCoy to protect her from the angry tribe that want to see her dead! Spock and McCoy’s phasers clog up as well thanks to the magnetic field and while McCoy and the girl get away, Spock is captured and forced to be a slave to the Dragon Lizard worshiping tribe as McCoy along with the smaller tribe that Shulu comes from come up with a plan to rescue Spock that has McCoy teaching them how to make and use bow and arrows. A rescue mission happens and Spock is set free and the evil tribe leader is killed and McCoy soon learns that his new friends are just as cruel as the ones they over threw and Spock and McCoy find themselves once more being hunted as the new tribe in power turns on them for questioning their customs, in the end Kirk and a shuttle comes down and saves the pair from what would have been a for sure death at the hands of primitive humanoids.

This tenth issue adventure is pretty good but also feels a little lackluster and almost like a throwaway episode of the show as they stretch the plot out as long as they could and than padded the rest of the issue with looks at the uniforms and gear of crew members to meet the page count. The plot is this Spock and McCoy get stuck on a planet with primitive man and save the life of a young woman who was going to be killed to please a false god, Spock gets kidnapped and enslaved and this forces McCoy to team with the smaller tribe and break federation rules when he teaches them how to make new weapons and defeat their enemies and saves Spock. And before the pair is saved they learn that one mans evil ways just leads to more evil ways. Captain Kirk in this issues takes a back seat as he is sick with the flu and only in the end comes to his friends aid when they are late to report back to the Enterprise. Spock is noble and stays behind to save the life of the young woman and McCoy and becomes a slave for his deeds, Spock truly is a logical and iconic hero character. McCoy shows that he is a loyal friend to Spock as well as proves he will not stand by if human lives are in danger. The cover for this issue is great and makes it look like in the issue Spock was going to gladiator fight with a primitive man and while that would have been amazing and fit the tag line “ Spock…The Barbarian” it sadly did not live up to that epicness and instead we got a middle of the road fun story. The art in this issue is done by Leo Duranona and Klaus Janson and for the post part looks rushed and seems unfinished, and besides the ships and a few panels of crew members it’s the sloppiest work this far in the whole series up to this issue. To sum it up a cool read but by far the weakest issue this far, so lets just move on past this one.

Marvel Star Trek 11

Star Trek # 11  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #11 of 18

Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise watch the logs of another federation ship that’s crew was slowly killed by radiation and the effects it had on their bodies and minds. The Enterprise is to move Dr. Wentworth and his patients off a planet that could be effected by the radiation and must beam them all aboard and take them to a new location. First beamed aboard is a young lady named Andrea Manning who is the doctors assistant and who also has a unknown strange past with Scotty who seems sad and not to pleased to see her. With the guests now all aboard Dr. Wentworth tries his best to spill his mumbo jumbo on the crew about not taking orders and to live their own lives as it’s clear his clinic is not so much for healing, as it is a cult! In the engineering room a Witch from classic folklore attacks Scotty, knocks Kirk and Spock around plus kills two security officers before disappearing. The Witch’s name was “Black Annis” and was a myth from Scotty’s youth and after seeing it he has fallen into a bad state of fear that leaves Kirk, McCoy and Spock worried about his health and mental well being. Meanwhile Wentworth has used his power of persuasion on Sulu and Uhura and they have changed course from the Starfleet base to now a vacation planet and this angers Kirk who does not know why now his crew are not listening to his direct orders. After arresting those who are uprising against orders they soon find that more Scottish folklore monsters are after Scotty and that Andrea Manning is the one who is responsible for these terrors! As Spock and McCoy try to stop Andrea from bringing more monster to life, Kirk has it out with Wentworth who is on a quest to take over the Enterprise and spread his mind control across the galaxy…but this don’t end well for the Doctor as Kirk with a well placed punch leaves the old man knocked out on the floor. And after summing the Loch Ness Monster to attack the Enterprise, McCoy quickly sedates Andrea and the monster vanishes and they crew snap out of their brainwashed trances and deliver the Cult members to the Starfleet base.

This issue’s mission has Captain Kirk and crew going up against a Cult ran by a doctor who has the power to mind control and his assistant who can bring things form your memories to life and use against you. This has a real 60’s Manson Family and even Health But Guru feel to it as Dr. Wentworth the madman with the power of mind control wants to rule the galaxy and will use other to get it all the while faking spreading the message of being once self, when really your just being his puppet. Andrea Manning while a cult member and the doctors # 1 (as The Joker from the Tim Burton Film would say) has he own reasons for unleashing monsters from Scottish folklore onto the Enterprise as she is very upset with Scotty who was once her boyfriend and who dumped her for so he could focus on his career in Starfleet, and man she wants to mentally break him before she murders him as she tries her best to scare him to a state of 100% terror. Kirk handles his crew turning against his orders, his friend Scotty being scared out of his wits and a cult leader trying to steal his ship really well and gets to work out his frustration from all these things with one well placed and powerful punch to the cult leaders face. Scotty gets the worst of it all as the fears of his youth are used against him and all because he broke up with a young lady many years back. Crew members McCoy, Spock and Chekov all do their part to stop this sinister plan while poor Sulu and Uhura fall victim to mind control. Over all this is a very solid fun issue that had the right blend of action and science fiction sandwiched in-between a cool cover of the Enterprise under attack. The interior art was great and done by Joe Brozowski and Tom Palmer and could be my favorite art this far in the series as the characters look like the actors who played them and all side characters as well looked fantastic. This issue is making me look forward to the next issue mission as Marvel at this point in time is doing Star Trek justice in the world of comics.

Marvel Star Trek 12

Star Trek # 12  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #12 of 18

Janice Rand is now a Lt. Commander of the Icarus and is married to a Phaetonians alien named Kadan who is without a body and a energy ball inside of a pyramid case and along with more of his race they are about to take on a mission to travel to uncharted space, the downside is that Rand will be the only human aboard the ship and for the rest of her life she will not have any more human contact. This upsets Kirk who has had a past relationship with Rand, as he feels that not only her time in space alone is a bad idea but so is the fact that she is married to a alien with no body! After some words Kirk gives her his blessing on this mission that turns bad quick as the barrier drives the Phaetonians mad and now her once loving and logical husband Kadan is a madman who is controlling the starship that is now gone mad killing ships that get in its way, all the while Rand is now a prisoner! Rand during the impact with the barrier gains physic powers and sends a mind message for help to Spock and this causes Kirk to spring into action and try and save his one time woman and also the planet of the Phaetonians as Kadan plans on crashing the Icarus into it as he and the crew feel homesick! Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Sulu beam aboard the Icarus and fight off traps and force fields until Spock is able to join minds with Kadan and save the planet and the Icarus crew from certain death. In the end the Phaetonians are taken to a mental asylum as they have gone mad, Janice Rand goes back to normal and is now safe and feels important as she helped Spock with Kadan’s mind meld as well as now she can divorce her husband and all ends well for Starfleet.

Captain Kirk has done it again as he on this mission not only saves a planet from destruction along with his crew but also hits on a married woman and by the end of the mission opens her mind up for a divorce! Kirk is a real ladies man as well as a great Captain and friend to those aboard his ship The Enterprise. Janice Rand is still hung up on Kirk and marries a alien who has no body, but does have a big brain and chooses to take on a mission that will have her dying in space with a ship with no human crew members! Her goal is to chart un-charted galaxies and to make an impact in her life time…but in the end does so as she truly does help Spock take control of her husbands mind who is the one controlling the out of control ship headed for impact with his home planet. Spock once more is the main man who saves the day as his mind meld technics is what allows them to take control of the ship and deliver it to a safe place. What really worked for his issue was the fact that the ships Enterprise and Icarus played cat and mouse games and the chase felt like a true episode of Star Trek! I also want to note that while Kirk and crew were on the Icarus the Enterprise was being commanded by Scotty who’s idea to save the planet was to wreck the two ships together killing everyone on board both ships, and the worst part is he was going through with the idea until Spock at the last moment was able to take control of the runaway starship! Over all while this issue is nothing to special it does have a great feel to it and I found myself enjoying reading the story as it unfolded. The cover is great and has Kadan in the center as well as an illusion of what his people use to look like above Kirk, Rand and Spock who are in pain over his power…very cool Marvel Comics stuff! The art inside is ok and is slightly sloppy in spots and is done by the team of Luke McDonnell and Tom Palmer and again while ok it does not have the appeal like the last issue did in the art department. Over all our 12 mission with the crew of the Enterprise and Marvel is well done and shows that comics based on Movies and TV Shows can be done right when in the hands of creators who care.

Marvel Star Trek 13

Star Trek # 13  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #12 of 18

Hephaestus is a resort planet filled with peace, as it’s a neutral zone and important minerals wanted by the Federation so Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise is sent down to get permission form the planets president named Mukii and talks go well as he agrees for them to mine the minerals they need. But also on the planet is Klingon Commander Kagg and his crew who want to talk Mukii and his people out of helping the Federation and more allow them to protect them and act as their allies. As tension between Federation crew and Klingon crew heat up leaving Chekov in a fistfight with a very rude Klingon who was abusing a native of Hephaestus, this resort planet is slowly turning into a war zone. As Dr. McCoy enjoys a drink at the bar he is approached by his estranged daughter Joanna who lets out her rage on her father who in turn tries to defend is actions and even meets her ill Vulcan soon to be husband Suvak who during the argument passes out! The fight leaves the native Hephaestus dead and both the Klingon and Chekov in jail, with Dr. McCoy and Dr. Chapel having to perform an autopsy on the dead primate man learning that a chip is what gives them intelligence, and when Kagg shows up the plan is revealed that the Klingons want to take over the planet and want to know were the secret base that makes the chips that makes the Hephaestus people smart is and has found it and placed a bomb in the factory to blow it up and stop the only source for the chips to be made! In Kaggs escape he takes nurse Joanna McCoy hostage and this leaves to Spock and Kirk trying to track him down, as Dr. McCoy and Dr. Chapel stay with Suvak who is dying and shows true love and courage as he goes to his loves aid in the factory and holds Kagg at bay as Kirk and the rest of the crew are beamed aboard the Enterprise, but not before Kirk sends the blueprints of making the chips to his ship. The factory blows up killing Suvak and Kagg in the process. In the end the rift between Joanna and Dr. McCoy is even wider as her love is now dead, but words from Spock speak logic to Bones who ends up ending the issue beaming down to speak to his daughter and rebuild their relationship.

This is like classic Star Trek meets classic Planet Of The Apes as the natives of Hephaestus are smart ape people who look and dress a lot like the apes from that film series wrapped up into one classic Marvel Comic issue. The plot of this issue has the Enterprise having a showdown with Klingons on a natural planet that is run by smart primate people who are being targeted by the Klingons as they want to take over their planet and by the Federation who wants to have them as allies and use some of their land for mining. And throw is a couple of murders of the Hephaestus people as well as the drama of Dr. McCoy seeing his daughter after many years of being at odds as well as the fact she wants to marry a Vulcan who is dying and you have this action back issue wrapped up. While Kirk and Spock are the main focus of the hero part of the issue and both risk their lives to save the Hephaestus people, it’s Dr. McCoy who steals the show as his drama with his daughter and the raw emotions of hating the fact she is marring a Vulcan is what drives the issue into being more than just another space adventure and rescue comic. Joanna McCoy has followed in the footsteps of her father as she is a nurse, but her feelings toward her father are every bitter and she does not respect him nor want him in her life! The Klingons lead by Commander Kagg are as blood thirsty as ever and kill and bully their way into trying to conquer and take what they want, but as always they fail and end up one the bad end of the outcome. The Hephaestus is a race of Primate Aliens who have gotten their smarts from Aliens who visited their planet years back and gave them chips in the back of their necks that allowed them to become smart, I dig the fact that with smarts came the want to make money as they turned their planet into one giant spa! The cover is great and has Kagg holding a gun to Joanna McCoy’s head and Kirk and Spock about to spring into action to save her! The interior art is done once more by the team of Tom Palmer and Joe Brozowski and looks great! Over all another great issue and proved that Jim Shooter who was the Editor In-Chief during this time was one of the best things to happen to Marvel Comics, a great read about a fun mission from the crew of The Enterprise.

Marvel Star Trek 14

Star Trek # 14  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #14 of 18

The Enterprise has found a planet that looks like ancient Egypt and it’s about to be in the patch of a lethal meteor shower that will leave any living thing dead. Kirk, McCoy, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov and many more crew members beam down to look for life and warn them of the coming doom from the sky while Scotty, Spock and a small handful of others stay aboard the Enterprise to monitor the approaching meteor storm. While on the planet Kirk is possessed by the spirit of Menteptah II a long dead pharaoh who watches as the Enterprise crew have to fight off a giant sphinx robot that they finally bring down by blowing its head off with their phasers, but the crew themselves are soon on the end of a phaser blast as the possessed Kirk blasts them and keeps them hostage. Kirk then takes his new prisoners communicators and destroys them as he thinks they can help him bring his long dead people back to life, but he missed one as McCoy had taken one off of a security officer that was killed during the battle with the giant robot. When caught using it McCoy is stunned and he and Sulu are taken to a primitive sick bay that has the hole crew getting iv’s filled with drugs that will make them slaves to the possessed Kirk who has already conned Uhura into thinking she was his queen. Spock beams down to the planet and snaps Kirk back into reality as McCoy escapes the sick bay and uses modern medicine to snap the crew out of their brainwashing. The mummies come alive as they were just normal men in a state of long slumber and are beamed off the planet to a safe location away from the meteors and harmful sun radiation that was effecting their planet. Kirk and Spock were also able to save Scotty and the Enterprise that was hit by a powerful shrinking ray fired off by one of the pyramids when they figure out the ancient computer system that controls the plants defense system. In the end everyone is back to normal and once more the crew of The Enterprise has saved the day.

“Captain Kirk and the Curse of the Space Pharaoh” is what I nicknamed this issue that has Kirk being possessed by a dead pharaoh and controlled by an Egyptian God statue who wants to use the Enterprise crew to wake up his followers that have been asleep for decades. When Captain Kirk first goes to the planet he is doing so with a noble cause as he wants to save anyone that may be on the planet from the approaching meteor shower of death, but once he gets possessed he becomes a madman with power who wants slaves and wants to please his God by doing what he commands. If not for Spock Kirk and most of the Enterprise crew would have been in a trance and no longer themselves forever! Spock for most the issue hangs out on the Enterprise with Scotty and a skeleton crew, but once he hears the message from McCoy he becomes a one man army as he beams down and rescues the day. I also like the side story of the Enterprise shrinking due to a pyramid laser ray as it adds even more adventure and drama as Scotty is in total danger. The cover is classic early 80’s Marvel and the art inside is done by Luke McDonnell and Gene Day and looks fantastic! Over all this is another solid and good issue and holds the magic of the TV Show and the Characters and is worth the read for sure.

Marvel Star Trek 15

Star Trek # 15  **1/2
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #15 of 18

Captain Kirk calls a meeting in his room and when McCoy and Spock show up they are greeted by a monster who shocks them, but they soon learn that its just Kirk in a costume and that many of the crew will be wearing them as they are going undercover on a prison world! Their mission is for a four man team to act as guards and break into the death row section of the planet where prisoners are killed in brutal ways no matter the crime they committed, the second part of the mission will follow after the success or failure of the first part of the mission. The Enterprise captures the real guard ship and Spock uses mild melding to calm them and sends them back home as members of the Enterprise will be taking their place as the mission is now told as they are looking for a young man named Tak who went missing heading for the prison planet and they need to bring him back safe and find out why he went their in the first place. Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura put on the costumes and head for their mission were they run across just how brutal the planet and its executions really are. While sent out to find a missing prisoner Kirk and the crew find Tak as well as are busted by a guard they must knock out and leave in a ditch! Tak informs them that he wants to die on this planet as an accident he had while drunk left his true love dead! Tak once more runs away before he can be rescued and shape shifts into a prisoner about to be executed and is saved my Kirk and crew again only for they themselves to be saved by the guard they knocked out who kills the evil warden and takes over the prison and wants to run it way different. Kirk and crew along with Tak are beamed aboard the Enterprise and Tak is set to get the mental help he needs.

This fifteenth issue in this Marvel Comic series of Star Trek issues is a good read, but could be one of the weakest this far next to maybe issue ten. The issues plot has the Enterprise crew going on a top-secret mission in a territory that is hostile and must save a young alien man who has went missing on a planet that is the galaxies worst prison with the most brutal death row! Kirk tells his crew that this mission is one they can by no way connect to the federation so if they must die in order to protect their employer so be it! The crew is wearing goofy costumes most the issue, besides Kirk who’s mask is ripped off so the good old captains face is seen by not only the prison guards but also us readers. The Warden is super evil and gets pleasure in watching the killing of his prisoners as he finds that they do not deserve respect in life or death, but he meets his maker by the hands of his own guard who puts a phaser blast hole in his back as he wants to change the evil ways of the planet. The cover for this issue is pretty good as it makes it look as if Captain Kirk has turned into The Devil as the crew look on fearful! The interior art is pretty sloppy and weak and is done by Gil Kane, and that’s shocking as his work for the most part was pretty good in other Marvel and DC Comics. While this issue is not terrible and was an enjoyable read, I just found it to get semi generic and nothing special. I do like how it has a message of don’t drink or do drugs and drive as it could lead to death! To sum it up this issue is like a throw away episode of the TV series and while worth the read will be one that you would rate lower.

Marvel Star Trek 16

Star Trek # 16  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #16 of 18

Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Chekov, a security guard and Themon (who is Chekov’s girlfriend) beam down to a federation planet for its annual check-up to its people but what they find instead is a tribe of trolls who attack them and kidnap Themon! Before the battle gets to fierce McCoy and an injured Troll are beamed aboard the Enterprise so they can study what they are! While Kirk and the crew fight on against the trolls they are saved by gnomes that are lead by Torval who informs them that the colony people of this planet they were looking for are dead and eaten by the trolls! Kirk and his crew are lead to a cave were the trolls live in order to try and save Themon, while aboard the Enterprise beamed up with the now un-needed supplies are two bat riding trolls who attack and are quickly captured when the crew learn they are powerless with out their hats on and once this happens they turn back into gnomes! When Kirk and crew find Themon she is trying to communicate to the trolls who are far less hostile now and seems to understand what they crew are saying! Meanwhile McCoy figures out the real trolls are in fact people and with some medicine they will turn back normal and he comes down to the planet and transforms the trolls back to normal. Kirk and Spock put two and two together and figure out Torval and his gnomes are the real bad guys who have set this whole thing up, in the end they defeat the gnomes who explain that only four of their race are alive and they just wanted a place to be left alone, and they get it as the leave them be and transport the colony away and all ends well.

This issue pits Kirk and the Enterprise against Trolls and Gnomes on a planet that was set for research and once the smoke clears they find that the gnomes whom they thought were allies are in fact the enemies who are using hat magic to destroy and trick those who stand in their way of living on the planet alone! Kirk in this issues is leading not only the ship but the landing party and seems to be is a world of disbelief as he jokes off the fact that they are being attacked and saved by creatures of Earth folklore. Not sure why he is acting like those who are stating and believe what they are seeing is real are crazy, he just does. Nice to see Chekov used more in this issue and even given a girlfriend in the blue skinned Themon who seems to be just as into Chekov as he is into her. The rest of the crew serve their purpose with McCoy being the real hero as he figures out the cure to make the trolls back to normal and saving them from a terrible life. The Gnomes who get their power from the their hats are few in numbers with only four being all that’s left of their race, but when their little minds are together they can kill and disrupt to get their way of wanting to live in peace. The Trolls are savages at first but once they can calm down and understand what the Enterprise crew is saying they become as gentle as babies. The threat in this issue while small still packs a great adventure feel to it as the gnomes try their best to even crush the crew and trolls alive with a cave in! The cover is eye catching and the art inside is done by Luke McDonnell and is ok but in some spots is really bad as one panel has Kirk looking like Sloth from the film The Goonies, as he eyes are weird and off center. Over all another fun Marvel Trek mission that was well worth the read and highly entertaining for fans of the TV Show and the movies.

Marvel Star Trek 17

Star Trek # 17  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel    #17 of 18

The Enterprise is called to a planet where a federation satellite crashed, and its fuel may cause the atmosphere to become toxic when coming in touch with the air. To see if the fuel has affected the air Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the planet that is very primitive in nature much like medieval times.  A young child witnesses them beaming down and believes they are angels. While in town McCoy heads to the town’s hospital that is a barbaric house of pain and suffering as the sick are not cured but left to heal by the hands of faith. While Kirk and Spock make the mistake of talking to a old man who studies the stars, the townspeople think they are evil so they are attacked and taken away, and when they discover Spock’s pointed ears they think he is a devil. McCoy finds that the air is poisoned and that the sick and elderly are being affected, but he as well is arrested and branded a devil worshiping evildoer.  The young child is also captured as they think she is mindlessly following the evil ones, and Gorman, who is the star researcher, saves her from being tortured and causes the holy warrior guards to give chase tricking them to leave and making it easier for Gorman and the young child visit Kirk and Spock in their cell and give them back their broken equipment that they use to free themselves, but sadly they must leave McCoy behind as he is in another cell and informs them that the air is turning toxic and they must get the Enterprise to drop the anti toxin into the atmosphere before it’s too late. In the end Kirk saves McCoy, who is about to be drowned by the Holy Warriors that think he is a witch, as Spock is able to contact the Enterprise by making a primitive radio that alerts them to drop the antidote right on time. In the end Kirk, Spock and McCoy return to the Enterprise, and Gorman and the young girl know that science is the way to cure and create things to better mankind.

This issue’s mission lands Kirk and select crew on a planet that is much like the medieval era where superstition runs wild and people still think witches and devil are out to get them.  In reality, the ones they target just understand science and want to use it to better mankind in its quest to evolve and cure illness and understand the world around them. This issue reminds me a lot of the third Evil Dead film “Army Of Darkness” as the future seems to clash with the past and by the end it all mashes together for the better. Kirk, Spock and McCoy put themselves in danger in order to find out if the planet’s people are in trouble from toxic air thanks once more to the federation who goofed up and wants the Enterprise to be the clean up crew in secret to protect its reputation. The people of the planet are so into superstition that they are on a witch hunt and are clueless that the air around them is slowly killing them. Gorman and the little girl are great side characters as they are clearly the only ones smart enough to figure out Kirk and crew are their to help and even are the key to how Spock and Kirk free themselves from the jail. The story feels like a classic 1960’s episode of the TV show, and once more, Marvel showed that they could do science fiction right when based on a popular franchise. The cover on this issue is okay and while not really showcasing what the issue was about, is eye catching to Trekkies for sure. The interior art this time around is being done by Ed Hannigan and looks pretty good like your typical B-Title art from Marvel. Over all this issue was great and a fun read that captured the silliness and epic nature of Star Trek missions.  So what I am saying is this issue was good stuff.

Marvel Star Trek 18

Star Trek # 18  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Marvel   #18 of 18

The Enterprise is being blocked by a giant ship planet that sends over probes that allows it to beam aboard both Kirk and Spock.  They meet a giant robot named Sustainer who informs them that he wishes them no harm and needs their help, but this help will have one returning to the Enterprise and will leave the other dead. Before they can get answers, Kirk and Spock find themselves on opposing pirate ships.  Kirk dies saving Spock’s life when a piece of the ship falls and crushes him. As Spock carries his dead friend and Captain, the Sustainer informs him that he can bring Kirk back to life.  This confuses the pair even more as they escape the sick bay and find they are now in some sort of mechanical maze, that this time leaves Spock dead and resurrected. Sustainer brings Kirk and Spock to the bridge of his planet ship and shows them the Enterprise on the screen and starts to use his ships power to heat up the Enterprise, slowly cooking the crew alive! The only way he will stop this massacre is if Kirk or Spock give their life for them and this time the death will be final, Spock uses the nerve pinch on Kirk and volunteers death for the lives of his fellow crew members, but Kirk awakes just in time and once more saves Spock from death’s grip. Sustainer is happy this has happened as he never wanted to kill and was only stealing the emotion of friendship and doing great things for others as his creators are in sleep chambers on this ship.  They are greedy and self centered, and by stealing these emotions from Spock and Kirk, he can now install those feelings into his creators making them a better race. In the end Sustainer sends Kirk and Spock back to the Enterprise, and all ends well as the galaxy is shaping up to be a better place for all alien races.

The final Marvel Comic mission has a message about loyalty, sacrifice and helping others in need and is told between Kirk and Spock who are being tested by a giant robot who in turn is trying to use emotions to teach his creators a better way to live their lives instead of being selfish. Kirk and Spock have respect for each other as fellow Starfleet members but also are close friends as they clearly would risk their own lives to save each other from danger and death. The rest of the crew of the Enterprises sadly are just pawns in this game of stealing emotions and self sacrifice as they are trapped in a tracking beam and later are almost cooked to death like sardines in a can. Sustainer is a giant robot that is loyal to his creators and yet knows that they are flawed and that their own selfish nature is what has lead to their almost complete extinction. His plan for help is to trick Kirk and Spock into doing tests that always leave one person dead.  Each time the death comes from a selfless act in order to help the other, as Sustainer is taking that emotion and thought process and pumping it into the sleep chambers of his creators in hope it will make them better beings. It’s strange that this story is how they decided to end the Star Trek Marvel Comic series with a moral meaning issue and not a battle with the Klingons or some other alien race, as I would have liked to have seen maybe a few more aliens from the TV show make an appearance during this 18 issue run. While Marvel only ran Star Trek for 18, far less than the 107 made for Star Wars, it still was a fun and high quality science fiction comic adventure that took classic characters and allowed them to battle Klingons, fight gnomes and even find a haunted house planet to keep their mission going and act as a way to keep fans happy as they waited for the next movie to come out in the series. The cover is okay and informs you that this was the final issue in the series and showcases Kirk and Spock in a mind meld.  The final issue art duty went to Joe Brozowski, and you could tell he gave it time and respect. Being a long time fan of Star Trek I will say that while I highly enjoyed this comic series, it does have flaws like odd character attitude changes and cheesy missions, but if you like fun with your Trek I would say make sure to give this series a read. Below is some art from this series and yes it’s all taken from when they fought the monsters as it combined two things I really love lots: Star Trek and monsters!

Marvel Star Trek Art 1Marvel Star Trek Art 2Marvel Star Trek Art 3

This month I covered things that I was a huge fan of in my youth and still am to this day including Horror Host show Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grampa, Sunday Funnies iconic character Dick Tracy and last but not least sci-fi mainstay TV and movie franchise Star Trek.  It was a blast going back to my past and re-visiting my past memories and joys that these media characters gave me and still do. Our next update will be our first in our countdown to Halloween and will take us out of the unknowns of space and into the deep blue ocean as we take a look at Jaws 2 and the Marvel Comic adaptation of the film.  So until then, make sure to take a few moments and give some thought to movies, TV shows, comics, music, books, video games, horror hosts and most importantly the people who have been impactful on your life and helped shape you into the person you are today. So read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, and I’ll see you on Amity Island for our next Jawsome update.

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Rotten Ink Calling Dick Tracy…You There Tracy?

Calling Dick Tracy, come in Tracy – we wanted to let you know that you’re the topic for this Rotten Ink update! Ever since I was a youngster, I loved to read Dick Tracy comic strips, comics as well as watch the movies based around his adventures, and I have been itching worse than Itchy to bring to you friends and readers this update, as Tracy is one of my favorite characters of all time. I can remember the first time I read a reprinted Sunday comic strip at my Grandma and Grandpa Salyers’ house during one of our way too few visits and being hooked on his crime fighting adventures. This flame was sparked more by the Warren Betty film, the action figures and the reprinted comics that started to spring up at the local comic shops that my brother used to buy from a small five and dime near our grandparents’ house back in the early 90’s. Updates like this are one of the main reasons I love having this blog as I get to share and relive many characters from my past that helped fuel my imagination and made me into the overly creative person I am today. So check your wrist radio and make sure you can read this loud and clear as we are about to travel to the mean streets alongside Dick Tracy and clean them up from all the scum that’s ruining them!

Dick Tracy panel 1

Let’s first take a brief look at the man who created Dick Tracy so that we can get in tune with this iconic character. Chester Gould was born on November 20, 1900 in Pawnee, Oklahoma and by all accounts had a pretty good childhood as his father was a minister. At a young age, Chester was a fan of comics and was hired early on to make strips for Chicago Evening American and over his time there made such strips as Fillum Fables, The Radio Catts and Why It’s A Windy City. In 1926 Chester married Edna Gauger, and they had a daughter Jean a year later. In 1931 Chester created a comic strip for the Detroit Mirror that was based on a New York detective that caught the cartoonist’s eye for being interesting, and later it would morph into a strip based on a fake detective that he called Dick Tracy. The comic strip became a mega hit, and he would spend the next 46 years of his life drawing it as fans eagerly awaited the next strip. But things didn’t stay positive as by the strips decline, many readers turned on it for being too supportive to the police and the fact he added sci-fi elements by having Tracy visit the moon and even had a crooked lawyer character who sent readers into a fury and had newspapers dropping the strip. But many did stick with it through the ups and downs, and all were entertained by this yellow trenchcoat-wearing cop and his odd rouges gallery. Chester Gould passed away on May 11, 1985 leaving behind a legacy of comic strips and one of the world’s most iconic fictional detectives Dick Tracy. Over his career Chester won many awards such as the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award in 1958 and 1977 as well as an Edgar Award in 1980 to name a select few.  For those wanting to learn a little more about Chester, his only child Jean wrote a book about her father called “Chester Gould: A Daughter’s Biography On The Creator Of Dick Tracy” that was published in 2007 that is worth checking out. So here is a big thanks to Chester for creating Dick Tracy as well as to all the fans who have kept the character alive after all these years.

Dick Tracy Comic Strip CharacterChester Gould 0Sunday Funnies Tracy

The character of Dick Tracy was so popular that the comic strip spawned not only film serials but also movies that hit theaters and entertained the masses. The serials started in 1937 with the first simply being called “Dick Tracy” and had actor Ralph Byrd step into the role.  He would go on to play the character in the rest of the serials that followed such as “Dick Tracy Returns”, “Dick Tracy’s G-Men” and “Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc” with each of them being very popular for movie goers. Starting in 1945, RKO Radio Pictures decided to make Dick Tracy movies with the first being once again just called “Dick Tracy” with actor Morgan Conway as Tracy. The next picture once more had Morgan as Tracy and was released in 1946 and was called “Dick Tracy vs. Cueball” with actor Dick Wessel playing Cueball. In 1947, the third film was released in the series and was called “Dick Tracy’s Dilemma” and had Ralph Byrd return to the role of Tracy and The Claw, the film’s main bad guy, being played by Jack Lambert. Later in 1947, the fourth and final film in the RKO series was made.  It was called “Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome” and had Ralph Byrd again as Tracy and horror icon Boris Karloff as Gruesome.  Growing up, sadly, I never saw the serials, but I do remember the the RKO films and have memories of watching them though I’m not sure what station I saw them on.  If I had to guess, I would say TBS, WGN or AMC. The movies as well as the serials both have been released on VHS and DVD, and those fans wanting to watch these classic films can do so thanks to companies like Alpha Video. I  also should note that many Horror Hosts have also hosted these Dick Tracy films over the ages. But while the 1940’s was a big time for Tracy, it was the 90’s that he ruled for kids like me…but I’ll save that for a little further in this update.

Dick Tracy Ralph ByrdDick Tracy Meets Gruesome PosterDick Tracy Cueball

Besides the big screen, Dick Tracy also made his way to television thanks to the UPA who in 1961 made a cartoon show called “The Dick Tracy Show” that followed Tracy’s patrol cops like detective Joe Jitsu – a super smart character who knows martial arts, the police bulldog Hemlock Holmes, the apple stealing Heap O’Calorie and the speedy Manuel Tijuana Guadalajara Tampico “Go-Go” Gomez Jr. Tracy was never the main focus of the episodes that would rotate between the above characters who would always foil the crimes of Mumbles, Flattop and Pruneface, among other classics from the Tracy rogues’ gallery. The episodes were about 5 minutes each, and the show ran for a total of 130 episodes before being cancelled in 1962. Dick Tracy was voiced by Everett Sloane, and classic Warner Brother voice actor Mel Blanc lent his voice to characters like Flattop. I can remember when I was a kid, my brother used to wake up really early on Saturday Mornings and would start his cartoon watching early with a big bowl of cereal.  He would always tell me about this classic Dick Tracy cartoon he was watching, and after a month or so of him telling me about the show and me not believing him, he woke me up early per my request as I was wanting to watch this cartoon based on my favorite comic strip detective…and would you know the show didn’t come on.  My brother was so mad as it made him look as if he was telling a fib about the show and it would not be until many years later till I would finally be able to watch the show with my own eyes. While now the cartoon is pretty much forgotten, it’s worth tracking down on DVD and watching for Dick Tracy fans.

Dick Tracy Animated 1Dick Tracy Animated DVDDick Tracy Animated 2

Here is something many of you might not know; back in 1967, a TV pilot for a Dick Tracy series was produced by William Dozier, the man responsible for the 1966 Batman series starring Adam West, and was shopped around to ABC and NBC with neither company picking it up. Actor Ray MacDonnell stepped into the role of Dick Tracy, and the villain for the episode was Mr. Memory played by Victor Buono. While he was no Ralph Byrd or even a Warren Beatty, the overacting MacDonnell would have been a silly good TV version of Tracy. The reason the series was not picked up was because Green Hornet was a flop and the ratings for Batman were starting to slip, and no company wanted to invest in a comic hero series at the time. I was lucky that back in the day my brother was able to get a grey market VHS tape of this unaired Dick Tracy pilot, and alongside friend Andy Copp, we all gave it a watch and laughed and thought it was a fun and silly program. One thing that has stuck with me is the show’s theme song, that proclaims this mighty line: “Dick Tracy…He’s a good cop.”  And while he is one heck of of a cop, the networks in 67 just didn’t think he was a rating winner waiting to happen.

Failed Live Action Dick Tracy TV Show 1Ray MacDonnell as Dick TracyFailed Live Action Dick Tracy TV Show 2

In the summer of 1990, Touchstone Pictures released a big budget action film based on Dick Tracy that had the kids of the world craving everything they could get based on this classic comic strip character. Dick Tracy was directed by Warren Beatty, who also played the role of Tracy, and had big stars like Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice, Dustin Hoffman as Mumbles, Paul Sorvino as Lips Manlis, Madonna as Breathless Mahoney and William Forsythe as Flattop, to name a very small few. The film had music done by Madonna with the score being done by Danny Elfman. The budget of the film was $47 million and at the US Box Office, it brought in a total of $103,738,726.00 making it a pretty good success for Touchstone. In 1990, Dick Tracy was the # 9 film of the year and beat out such films as Back To The Future Part III, Edward Scissorhands, The Godfather Part III, Misery, Goodfellas, Hard To Kill, Robocop II, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Rocky V, Ernest Goes To Jail and My Blue Heaven to name a small amount of hit and cult films. When I was about 10 years old, Dick Tracy hit theaters, and I was drawn into the commercials on TV promoting the film and begged my parents to take me to the theater to watch it.  They were not having it, and I had to wait to see it on VHS, renting it from the video store. But while I didn’t get to see the film, I was able to buy the toys, novels and read the comic books that were coming out and my brother was buying. I had Tracy fever and even wore several t-shirts that had Dick Tracy characters on them with my favorite being one that showcased Flattop. Upon finally seeing the film, I was a fan and can remember chatting about the bad guys of the film with friends and my brother and hoping and waiting for a sequel to be made. A sequel was just not to be as the rights to the characters in films became a nightmare of companies claiming to own it, but after years of fighting, Warren Beatty was proven to be the real owner of Dick Tracy’s film rights. Beatty himself keeps claiming that he has a sequel in mind and has hinted that Tracy will grace the silver screen once again in the future. Say what you will about the 1990 Dick Tracy film, but for me it was a must watch film alongside many other classic films from my childhood like The Goonies, Gremlins, Beastmaster and Legend to name a few. If you haven’t seen Dick Tracy, give it a watch, and if you have seen it, watch it again.  It’s a true classic comic to movie classic.

Dick Tracy WarrenDick Tracy 1990 PosterAl as Big Boy

Straight off the score for the 1989 Batman film, Danny Elfman was asked to do the score music for Dick Tracy and hammered out good quality music to accompany the film.  Was it as iconic as his score work for Batman, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure or Edward Scissorhands…well no, but it was still top notch stuff that I find myself playing from time to time on Alpha Rhymes on WYSO. Around that same time, pop music icon Madonna also released a CD called “I’m Breathless” that had music from the film she sang as Breathless Mahoney as well as songs inspired by the film. It’s a good CD from Madonna as my favorite song on that album has to be “Sooner Or Later” as it’s a well structured song and showcases a more bluesy sound from Madonna. This release was met with mixed reviews and was not one of her bigger hits. If you’re looking for the score or the music by Madonna you can find them on CD and Cassette, and they are worth checking out if you’re a fan. Below is the pictures of the CD’s as well as one of Tracy bad guy 88 Keys as he is the music man of this comic strip.

Danny Elfman Dick Tracy Score CD88 KeysMadonna Dick Tracy CD

In 1990, Bandai released a Dick Tracy video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that was a must buy or rent for many kids. We all quickly learned that the game was hard and really unforgiving in its challenge. Every kid I knew who owned a NES in Waynesville and my cousins Dino and Norman had this game in their collection and not a one of them ever beat it. I could not even crack and complete the first case as the snipers on the roof tops always took me out. The game has two modes: one is a top down car segment where you drive around town to gather the clues, and the second is side-scrolling beat em up action.  The game is truly impossible to finish unless you cheat. While the NES version of Dick Tracy is the most popular for old school gamers, many other Tracy titles were made for such systems as Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Sega Master System, Commodore 64 and DOS to name a few. So if you feel confident in your gaming skills and are up for a hard 8-Bit challenge, play some Dick Tracy for the NES and see how far you can get before snapping and breaking your system.

NES Dick Tracy Screen 1NES Dick Tracy in BoxNES Dick Tracy Screen 2

For the 2008 season, The Angry Video Game Nerd covered the Dick Tracy NES game, and just like I mentioned above, he was tortured in his youth by the game’s overly hard nature and the over powering gunshots from the roof snipers. But while watching him fail and play the video game is the funny part of his review, for me the highlight was when he talked about the Dick Tracy mania that was sweeping his school and how all his friends wanted to get all the Tracy stuff they could get their parents to buy them.  He even goes so far as to show old video of him on Halloween as a kid dressed up as Dick Tracy and getting a rock in his bag just like good old Charlie Brown. The youth of today have no clue how big of a deal the 1990 movie was to kids of my generation and how Dick Tracy was for a very short time as popular as other comic characters like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man.  I think this AVGN episode does a great job of briefly showing and sharing just how popular and loved it was. So if you’re a fan of AVGN, I am sure you have already seen this episode, and if you’re not and are not bothered by cussing and over the top humor, make sure to give it a watch.

AVGN Tracy 1AVGN Dick Tracy LogoAVGN Dick Tracy Cart

Dick Tracy has also had his fair share of merchandise for fans to collect, and besides the comic books, video games, soundtrack CD’s and home media releases of the films and shows, his yellow trench coat image as graced trading cards, tin toys, t-shirts, Halloween costumes, action figures, plush dolls, bubble bath products, novels, posters, hats, toy guns, and radios.  Pretty much anything you can name, he has graced it with his image in some way.  Growing up, I can remember seeing many of the old tin toys and books at the antique stores in downtown Waynesville and can even remember sometimes findings old Dick Tracy stuff at garage sales.  In both cases, the price tags were way too high for our mom to buy it for us. My favorite Dick Tracy merchandise I owned as a kid were the Playmate action figures.  I had Dick Tracy, Flattop and Itchy as well as the NES game and a paperback novel that I loved (I’ll get to that next). So fans and collectors, what Dick Tracy stuff did you own and love, in your collection now or even better that you had as a kid?

Sierra Exif JPEGDick Tracy SoakiePlaymates Dick Tracy Toys

My favorite Dick Tracy paperback novel when I was a younger lad was called “Dick Tracy Meets Angeltop: Flattop’s Little Girl” and was released in 1979.  It was done by Max Allan Collins who took over for Chester years back, keeping the Dick Tracy comic legacy alive. I found the book at a place called Half Priced Books and can remember reading it from front to back in one sitting while hanging out in my room and enjoying every crime filled page. I used to love the comic book paperback books that used to be made and to this day own many of the ones from Marvel and DC that I have had since I was a kid, but like a fool I did not keep this one. What stuck out to me was the fact that this was a story that pitted Tracy against the daughter of my favorite Tracy rogue who was long dead in the comic strip by the time this was released. Plus Angeltop, just like her father, is a gun firing fiend who clearly wanted to end Tracy’s life and avenge her father, building on his crime legacy. If you want a good read that pits Tracy against a mean spirited gun firing lady, check this one out as it’s worth the read for sure.

Angeltop panel 1Angeltop paperbackAngeltop

My favorite bad guy from the Dick Tracy Universe has to be Flattop Jones Sr., a strange looking mobster who had a flat head and a take no prisoners attitude. Flattop’s first comic strip appearance was on December 21, 1943 and little background is given on the character besides that he was a freelance hitman from Oklahoma and he was involved with the Kansas City Massacre, a real life incident that took place in 1933 that left four officers of the law dead. It’s believed that Chester Gould based the character off the real life mobster Pretty Boy Floyd who had a similar background and was involved in the Kansas City Massacre. In his first appearance, Flattop is coming off a five person killing spree and is hired to kill Dick Tracy for $5000, but of course comes up short. During his appearance in the comic strip, he has been shot and almost killed, attacks Vitamin Flintheart, been stuck in a chimney and stung by bees, knew Tracy during World War II and finally meet his end by drowning after being caught in the struts of a replica boat. Flattop was one of the biggest villains in the comic strip, and he spawned many relative characters to try and capture the original character’s magic with readers like his wife Stilleta Jones and his children Flattop Jr. and Angeltop Jones. He had a drunk father named Poptop as well as brothers Blowtop and Sharptop also had a grandchild named Hi-Top among others. The character has appeared in other Tracy media like a radio show, TV series and cartoon as well as the 1990 movie and many toys and video games. Growing up, one of my favorite t-shirts was a Flattop Jones Sr. one, and I can remember wearing it with pride even after many of the kids on the playground gave me guff for wearing a bad guy on my shirt, but as years passed they learned to expect my love for comic, movie and horror villians. To this day Flattop is one of my favorite comic book bad guys and would still easy make it into my Top 10 of all time!

Flattop From Comic StripFlattop from 1990 MovieFlattop from Animated series

Actor William Forsythe played Flattop in the 1990 film, and his portrayal is fantastic and really hammered home my love for the character as he brought the take no bull crap attitude and blood lust to kill some suckers with his trusty tommy gun. Forsythe is a fantastic actor and has appeared in such films as Cloak & Dagger, Once Upon A Time In America, Raising Arizona, Out For Justice, Stone Cold, G-Men From Hell, The Devil’s Rejects, Halloween (2007) and Dear Mr. Gacy to name a very select few and show how amazing an actor he is.  Over the years and the many conventions I have done with the likes of Andy Copp, Independent B Movie and Baron Von Porkchop I have seen William Forsythe many times and spoke to him from time to time as he has always been super approachable and friendly to his fans, but it was not until 2014 during a Horrorhound Weekend that alongside my friends Horror Host Icon Fritz The Nite Owl and Mike McGraner that I finally got to tell him just how impactful his portrayal of Flattop was to me as a kid.  He seemed very happy to hear it as I am sure at these cons most people talk to him about Devils Rejects. So I doubt if he ever reads this but again, thanks Mr. Forsythe for rocking in the role as Flattop and thanks for just being you and being very cool and chill with your fans. Below is a picture of Fritz, Mike and I with William Forsythe.

Frtitz, Mike and Me with William

Do you readers remember when Dick Tracy was out in 1990, and McDonalds had a cool contest going on that would let you get a scratch off ticket that would have you win prizes, free food and money if you could match up mug shot of Tracy villains to a number? My parents were never big McDonalds eaters, and when we would go to the restaurant, it would be because my brother and I would beg them to take us as we wanted something in the Happy Meal or thought we could win a contest like this. I can remember getting a few of these scratch off tickets and always revealing a character called Measles Enog who was a dope smuggler who had red spots on his face and was nothing but a two bit crook! I never won any major prizes on this game, but I did win a small fry. Do you readers and friend remember playing this game at your local McDonalds?

Dick Tracy McDonalds Game

Before we get into the review section of this update, I want to take a moment to give you all a personal opinion of mine that I truly believe. In comic books, a hero is only as good as the villains he faces and some of the most iconic bad guys attached to heroes all are just as known and important to the comic series as the hero is and bring their own twisted charms to fans. I mean let’s be honest, two of the biggest names in comic book history that have some of the best bad guys are Batman and Spider-Man.  What would Batman be without the likes of The Joker, Two Face, Catwoman, The Riddler, Killer Croc, Bane, Scarecrow and so many others; just like what would Spider-Man be without Doctor Octopus, The Lizard, Venom, Green Goblin, Kraven The Hunter, Scorpion and a mountain of others. For me, Dick Tracy also fits this list as he has battled some amazing and colorful characters over his long comic career like The Brow, Flattop, Big Boy, Itchy, Mumbles, Steve The Tramp, B-B Eyes, The Mole, The Rodent, Pruneface and so many other mean and original bad guy characters all with their own strange quirks and their own plots to kill Dick Tracy. For me, the top five comic/comic strip characters that have the best villains would be: Spider-Man, Batman, Dick Tracy, Captain America and X-Men..but I should also note that Superman and Incredible Hulk also have amazing bad guys and would make it into the top 10 for sure. So all I am saying is show the baddies the same respect you show your comic heroes because without them how boring would your comics be?

PrunefaceBrowItchy

Well we are here at the police station and Dick Tracy alongside his friends Sam Catchem and Pat Patton are in the other room getting some information from Little Face so I think that we should start getting to the review section of this update. I am not going to lie, when selecting what to blog about this month I decided that I was going to pick topics that meant something to me growing up like Super Scary Saturday, and I knew that Dick Tracy had to be a part of this month’s theme as I have been a long time fan and respect the characters and creators that made this Sunday Funnies strip into something that put a smile on my face for over 30 years. I want to thank Mavericks Cards and Comics and Lone Star Comics for having these comics in stock. I want to also re-thank my brother Bryan for buying this series called “The Original Dick Tracy” when we were kids and letting me read his copies when he was done with them. I need to also remind you all that I grade these issues on a 1-4 star scale and base it on these factors: how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So strap on your badge and put on your favorite hat and coat, as we dive into the crime world of Dick Tracy!

Original Tracy 1

The Original Dick Tracy # 1 ***
Released in 1990    Cover Price $1.95    Gladstone Comics    # 1 of 5

Dick Tracy VS Mrs. Pruneface” It’s a dark and stormy night as Dick Tracy and Pat Patton are filing old finger prints and decide to head home.  While Pat leaves first and gets a cab, Tracy decides to walk it in the rain and is attacked and knocked out by a whip swinging amazon of a woman who is Mrs. Pruneface, the widow of a mobster who Tracy has killed.  She takes the detective to a hideout where she and her servant Emil chain Tracy to the wall and keep him captive. Junior and the Police are worried when Tracy does not show up for work the next day, and when his pen is found in the ally, they know something wicked has happened to their friend and the city’s top detective. Meanwhile, Tracy is being mentally abused by Mrs. Pruneface who will not tell him who she is and why she has a plan to seal him up behind a brick wall after he has been killed thanks to a spike that has been driven through a board and placed on two 100 pound blocks of ice that will stab him in the heart thanks to the oven that will be left on as well as the old icebox that is left on top of the board to add weight. Mrs. Pruneface finally tells Tracy who she is and sets the trap that will end his life.  As she and Emil go to a tavern to wait for the morning news to report of Tracy’s death, the Detective uses his own quick wit to survive the death trap and is rescued by his fellow officers. Now wanted for attempted murder, Mrs. Pruneface uses stage makeup and changes her looks and gets a job at a hotel as a cook as Emil is ordered to stay at their new hotel room hideout, but being a goof Emil accidentally drops one of Mrs. Pruneface’s whips out the window and a cop picks it up and gives it to his son who is friends with Junior who informs Tracy and the rest of the cops were it was found.  Mrs. Pruneface is furious about Emil getting into her weapon bag and beats her one time servant to death with a lamp and goes about her new life as a cook. When Tracy and the cops find the body of Emil, she leaves the hotel and starts cooking for the mayor where she murders one of his daughters’ friends who accidentally finds out who she really is, and now with Tracy and the cops on her tail she holds the mayor’s two daughters hostage with a pot of boiling soup threatening to pour it on them if they don’t keep quiet quite as they police look around the house trying to find her. In the end, the daughters turn on a fan in front of flour that blinds Mrs. Pruneface who slips on the soup she drops and cracks her head open on the oven.  The daughters run for help, and Tracy and the others rush to the kitchen when they hear two gun shots and find that the mayor’s wife as put two bullets into Mrs. Pruneface’s head in self defense. And so ends the case of Mrs. Pruneface, who is now dead just like her husband.

This Dick Tracy adventure is as amazing and silly as I remember it to be when I first read this comic in my youth thanks to my brother who would buy every issue of this series. The plot is very simple and has Mrs. Pruneface trying to murder Dick Tracy to avenge her husband who was killed.  She fails and tries to go into hiding but is busted in the end due to her own evil and mean spirited nature. Dick Tracy goes from being a tortured prisoner who is almost murdered to a detective on the heels of those who almost did him in. The best part about Tracy in this issue is that he is so cheesy and yet so cool that he shows why he is a true icon of Sunday Funnies. Mrs. Pruneface is such a cruel and complete and interesting character as she was once a vaudeville performer who is the widow of crime boss Pruneface, is a master of make-up and stage effects, can cook like a professional chef and on top of it her face is messed up because she was fleeing her country during the war in a tank and took a face full of gasoline and fire.  Also I should throw into the mix that she is a master with a whip and is as strong as a body builder…this woman is badass! She is also very cold blooded and does not mind killing those who get in her way as she beats her own servant to death with a metal lamp and then drowns a young man in the pool both for different reasons and with zero remorse. It’s crazy that she meets her end by the hands of the Mayor’s wife who up to that point was never seen and was supposed to have been confined to a wheelchair, but somehow is able to walk again and place two bullets perfectly into the head of Mrs. Pruneface who was across the room…maybe it’s the Mayor’s wife that is the true bad ass as in the matter of minutes she is a master marksman and decides that she will not be handicapped no more. One other odd (and yet so fitting for the time) thing they keep doing in this issue is because Mrs. Pruneface has a burnt and ugly face they keep referring to her as not human because of her looks.  Tracy is not only a great detective but he is also cruel like a school yard bully. Over all this is a great way to start off “The Original Dick Tracy” comic series from Gladstone, and the cover is very eye catching and has Tracy walking down the street with Mrs. Pruneface whip in hand about to strike as the rain pours down. The art inside is done by Chester Gould himself and is what Tracy fans would want. I can’t wait to see if issue two holds up as well as issue one did, and while the writing of this issue might be dated and not super well done, it fits for the time when Dick Tracy was a must read when your Sunday paper was delivered.

Original Tracy 2

The Original Dick Tracy # 2  ***
Released in 1990    Cover Price $1.95    Gladstone Comics    # 2 of 5

Dick Tracy And The Evil Influence” In the cold of night, a car and a dead body are dumped in the pier by Influence and his henchman who have decided to stick around town.  With the power of persuasion, Influence uses his creepy power on Vitamin Flintheart to use his little diner as a hangout, and they also decide that they are going to take over Flintheart’s life as Influence makes him close his diner for good, make a fool of himself for his amusement and even break off every friendship he has ever had.  Influence also makes him remember that he owes them tons of money and that he flaked on paying his gambling debit to them. The old diner Flintheart owned is burnt to the ground, and with his friends chased away, the old man is warped into a person with no will power who is now 100% under the control of Influence who wants to make Flintheart into a money maker, killer and slave for his needs to gain money and power. Dick Tracy and Pat Patton become worried about their friend when they find his place burnt down and him missing, and thanks to some clues and his reputation, they figure out that Influence must be involved not only in this mystery but also the murder of the man pulled out of the pier. Influence has used his control over Flintheart to introduce him to a rich widowed stage actress who is now also under his control and is slowly emptying her bank account and giving it to him, all the while Influence has also taken over her mansion and has big plans to make himself rich. During this crime Influence comes in contact with Pat Patton, and after knocking him out with brass knuckles, he tries to burn the officer alive in the city dump, but thanks to the two way wrist radio Dick Tracy is able to save his friend and find a clue of a ripped piece of newspaper that is stuck to his friend’s jacket that has the address of the actress who is being controlled. Before Tracy and the cops can get to the mansion, Influence kills the actress and sets a trap for Tracy that leaves him in the hospital and the evil doers escaping to a winter resort. They allow Flintheart to go and wipe his mind and dispose of the hat and coat of Tracy they stole that is found by a young woman who returns it to the injured detective. Dick Tracy follows the lead of where his coat and hat were found and stumbles onto the hideout location at the resort and thanks to a pair of contact lenses and a chain he is able to beat Influence down and crack the glass contacts that give him his hypnotic powers.

This second issue is as good as I remember, and this time has Tracy going up against a hood who can use tricks to make people do what he wants, but he makes one mistake when he decides to kill and loot in Tracy’s part of town. Dick Tracy uses the clues he can find and the information on a known criminal to crack the case wide open and to figure out the secret of how one low life man can use the power of mentally controlling people thanks to contacts. Tracy, who is the main hero in this issue, still gets beat up as he is tricked, rolled into carpet and hit in the head with a metal pipe then gets his trademark yellow hat and coat stolen…so while Tracy does end up saving the day, he does take some damage. Pat Patton is also a good cop and is a loyal friend to Tracy, and while on the case he almost dies when he is bashed in the face with brass knuckles and then set on fire! Vitemin Flintheart, the aging actor turned hamburger diner owner, is used and abused in this issue as his old debts are called upon to be paid and he loses his own will, his business and the life of his old stage friend in the process. I never liked Flintheart as a character as I always found him to be a pompous ass so seeing him have to sleep on a brick and ordered around did kind of make me happy. Influence is a man driven by greed as he will do whatever it takes to get money in his hand and that even means murder as he kills three people and attempts the life of at least one other during his crime spree in this issue. I like the fact that he is a con man who uses tricks of contact lenses to bend the minds and will of people he has targeted for his scheme. Just like the first issue, this one has some blood, and it’s shocking that a comic strip used the red stuff to get across the act of violence. The cover is well done and reminds me of an old noir/detective film poster, and once more the art is done by the man Gould himself. Over all this second issue packs the same amount of punch now as it did back in my youth, and I can’t wait to read the third issue and see how well it holds up to this long time comic reader.

Original Tracy 3

The Original Dick Tracy # 3  ***
Released in 1991    Cover Price $2.00    Gladstone Comics    # 3 of 5

Dick Tracy Exterminates The Extortioner” Radio DJ Christmas Early and her date are wrapping up a evening late at night when he is mugged and killed.  Dick Tracy comes upon the crime at first thinking it was Christmas but soon puts it together that someone else has murdered the man without the young woman knowing as someone knocked him down and out and the spinning door Christmas was pushing on would crush the man’s throat and killing him. Gargles is a man who has a love for fine cigars and gargling mouth wash, and he has a get rich quick scheme that has him strong arming and forcing store owners to buy phony mouthwash he makes.  He is the one who killed Christmas’s date as he was a store owner that was going to alert the cops to his game of fraud. Gargles shakes down many store owners and gets more and more money for his bootleg mouthwash, and while in his hideout he even starts to fall for Christmas Early as he likes the sound of her voice.  Gargles also makes a mistake when he drops a cigar band with his initials into a jar of his foul mouthwash that Dick Tracy finds at one of the stores he ripped off. With the help of Christmas Tracy links the cigar band to a fan letter Gargles sent to her and finds the makers of the custom cigars and Gargles’ the address.  Tracy and Pat kill his two helpers as Gargles uses a hidden tiny room in his flowerbox to avoid being captured as he has been tricked into thinking Christmas wants to go on a dinner date with him when really she is setting him up to be captured, but while in his hiding spot he over hears Tracy sharing the date details with fellow officers and Gargles is able to alert some more underlings who are able to trick the cops and remove the flower box away from the apartment and saving Gargles from being captured, and this crook is not happy with his one time radio crush. Gargles finds a room to rent with Themesong and her mom, two friends of Dick Tracy who are unaware of his evil ways as he is unaware of their friendship with his pursuer.  This makes for a time bomb ready to go off at any minute. It all comes to a head when Dick Tracy finds out that Gargles is staying with his friends after he murders Themesong’s Mom and a shop owner and hides in a tool box on a repair truck that is then hit by a car crushing the box and hurting the fugitive bad. Once at the repair shop Gargles is finally able to free himself from the mangled tool box and kills one of the workers but has been tracked by Tracy who uses bullet proof glass to shake Gargles who trips and falls out of a window and is killed by chunks of glass that impale his body. In the end, Christmas is cleared of all charges and starts a friendship up with Themesong who is now an orphan, and Dick Tracy is once more the town’s hero.

Who in the world thought of the idea to have a major plot point of a comic being a character named Gargles who is addicted to using mouthwash extorting money from shop owners by selling them bootleg mouthwash….yes, you read that right bootleg mouthwash….Chester Gould is the man who came up with this amazing plot, and I loved every moment of it. While the idea of bootleg mouthwash is something I am sure many of you readers are chuckling about, it’s clear as day this was really a way to talk about prohibition without pissing off real mobsters as well as government agents who were battling the bootleg alcohol runners and makers. In this issue, Dick Tracy is super smart in some ways and in other makes some really bone headed mistakes. For the good, he figures out really fast that Christmas Early could not have killed her date as he was attacked from behind, but then a little later on he makes the mistake of blurting out a set up in place by Christmas when the scene was not secured poperly alerting the target to the plan. Speaking of Christmas Early she is pretty smart and uses her radio show to help law enforcement in tracking down and stopping Gargles on his path of bootlegging and killing. Gargles is a strange characters who is a germaphobe, has an addiction to using mouthwash multiple times a day and also loves to smoke cigars who gets him money by strong arming shop owners into buying hundreds of gallons of his fake nasty germ infested mouthwash. He also is not afraid to kill if someone tries to rat him and his racket out to the cops, is he as major of a threat as Mrs. Prunface or Influence? Not at all he is more small time but he does have is own henchmen who do as he requests and are loyal enough to die for him. But in the end he dies by being impalied by shards of glass and his crime spree comes to a bloody end. The one character I can’t stand is the young Themesong who is a snarky loudmouth little girl who is rude and is annoying, and I just don’t like her at all. The cover on this issue is pretty cool, and once more the art is done by the legend Chester Gould and is fantastic and is the look we all love for Dick Tracy. This is another great issue that captures the magic of the golden age of classic funnies and brings it to a new generation to enjoy! I can’t wait to relive the next issue, so let’s get to it shall we?

Original Tracy 4

The Original Dick Tracy # 4  **1/2
Released in 1991    Cover Price $2.00    Gladstone Comics    # 4 of 5

Dick Tracy Confronts Itchy Oliver” the goofy B.O. Plenty has became rich by taking Breathless Mahoney’s money and is now the target of Itchy who wants to use Breathless’s mother Elia as bait to lure the millionaire into a room so he and his goons can rob him! Once Elia lures B.O to Itchy’s hideout they torture him and get the location of his money thats hidden in his hotel room, but unknown to Itchy is that Dick Tracy and Pat Patton are waiting to chat with B.O and a shoot out happens that leaves Elia dead, Tracy nicked by a bullet and Itchy escaping with the money! To get ride of B.O Itchy and his goons tie him to a board and let him float away in the sewer as Tracy and the cops rush to Itchy’s hideout that was given to them by Elia’s dying breath. As Tracy, Patton and the Cops close in Itchy kills one of his henchmen and leaves the other behind so that he can steal all the money and while escaping hurts Patton and escapes via a car in a wedding service. But things don’t go well for Itchy when the wedding party figures out he is a mobster and try to hold him at bay until they can call the cops, but this leaves one man dead and Itchy stealing a car and on the run again. But lucky for the cops Junior and Tess where at the scene and were able to call Tracy and are following Itchy in a car so that he can not fully get away. A car chase leaves Itchy wrecking and faking his death only in turn to knock out Junior and kidnap Tess who he forces to steal Tracy’s car! After some quick thinking Tess wrecks the stolen car and traps herself and Itchy in it, but once more Itchy escapes and this time steals a police car but this time Dick Tracy sneaks into the trunk, and this causes Itchy to drive to a house owned by Kitty the widow of B-B Eyes a mobster that Tracy killed 5 years past and the pair of criminals keep Tracy hostage and start a plan to starve him to death! But thanks to some great detective work from Junior, Dick Tracy is able to get free and kill Itchy and arrest Kitty before they can truly do him in.

This issue is good but I must also say that much of it is wasted on car chases and grand theft auto as Itchy steals so many cars and goes on the run that you will think your watching a dated Dukes Of Hazzard episode during a long drawn out chase scene. The plot has Itchy stealing some money from B.O Plenty and going on the run to get away from Dick Tracy who is hot on his trail. Dick Tracy in this issue seems to always be three steps behind Itchy, and for the most part seems to be off his detective game as he is not only always behind on catching Itchy but also is captured and almost killed by the mobster and if not for Junior he would have been dead! Junior steps up his game and tries his best to not only beat up Itchy but also figures out the mobsters hideout and has the guts to go into it and help Tracy escape. This issue leaves B.O Plenty a hill billy with money in the sewer and makes your the reader wonder is he dead? Great seeing Tess Trueheart as she is a great character and is as brave and noble as any officer of the law in this series. Pat Patton is around doing his crime busting thing and even after being injured still does his job and tries to track down and capture Itchy and his goons. Itchy Oliver is all about the money and not only kills innocent people but also kills his own partners in order to keep it all, this mobster is just not greedy but also a cold blooded killer who meets his end at the end of a gun when he just cant let himself get captured. I love the fact that Itchy is called that cause he can not stop scratching and that quirk is what makes him stand out as well as gives him his nickname. Kitty the widow of B-B Eyes is also very mean and is the one who comes up with the fact that they will starve Tracy to death and will only give him water twice a day that sticks to a fork and his meals twice a day is a tiny bit of a turnip, she is cold blooded and in the end will go to jail. While this issue has the biggest name in Tracy’s rouges gallery this far as the main villain, it story and delivery is just kind of weak and not as charming as the issues that came before it. This also really does mark the death of Itchy who is shot in the chest and throat by Tracy, very brutal way to die. The cover on this issue is just ok and while eye catching for Tracy fans would not draw in new readers.  The art inside is fantastic and done once more by the master of Sunday Funnies Chester Gould. While this is not the best in the Gladstone Comic reprint series, it still was a fun and solid read and enjoyable till the very end.

Original Tracy 5

The Original Dick Tracy # 5  ***
Released in 1991    Cover Price $2.00    Gladstone Comics    # 5 of 5

Dick Tracy Rubs Shoulders” while walking down the road Dick Tracy is stopped by a little girl named Themesong who for spare change will sing you your favorite song, this is a set up as a two bit crook named Roach who is also the young girls father steals Dick Tracy’s wallet…or so he thinks as Tracy has been on to them and after roughing up Roach he arrests him and takes Themesong in as well. The crook Shoulders pays for Roach’s bail and beats him with a belt to teach him a lesson as Pat and Tracy follow Themesong home to see what clues they can find out of who is the man in charge of this street pick pocket crimes. Tracy follows Themesong home and tries to speak to her sick mother but it goes no where as Themesong makes it impossible for the two adults to talk. Shoulders is worried about the cops being onto him sho he sends his woman Honey Doll to fake act like she has been robbed to see if she can get any info from the cops on leads and their next move against street crime. Tracy is onto Honey Doll and dont play her game of trying to get information, meanwhile Themesong goes to Shoulders apartment to warn her father and his crooked friends of the cops looking for them and this send Shoulders into a rage that leaves Themesong being knocked out via a lamp thrown in her face and Rouch being shot twice and dying from his wounds. While Shoulders and Honey go on the run Tracy is called to Themesong’s family apartment were the body of Roach now lies. Tracy along with his wrist radio trick Themesong via her radio to tell the police who shot her father dead, but just as she is about to Shoulders knocks out Tracy and shoots Themesong twice in the gut and decides to flee the area leaving behind Honey Doll who is heart broken and in turn tells the cops what plane Shoulders is leaving on! But the crook Shoulders is to smart for theme and decides to go to a small airfield were he steals a plane and during take off crashes it into a gas tank blowing himself up! While at the hospital Themesong is doing better and recovering from her gunshot wounds. While all this craziness is happing B.O. Plenty is getting married to Gravel Gertie and Breathless Mahoney is mad in jail as she was apart of the same crime as B.O who has yet to be sent to trail and sentenced! The anger and bitterness forces Breathless to fall ill and die, while B.O is finally placed in jail only to be set free when the only witness to the crime Breathless passed away making it a happy ending for the new Bride and Groom.

This last issue in this “Original Dick Tracy” comic reprint line has Dick Tracy busting a pickpocket gang and as well attending the marriage of a friend who could be sent to jail on his own wedding day! Tracy is taking no prisoners and wants to make the streets safe for the citizens as he is onto who the key players of this petty street crimes are and even in the process decides to try and change a young girls life around who is involved in this crime ring thanks to her no good father. Tracy is a good cop and a great person as he also shows he cares about his friends as he tries to help B.O Plenty not to go to jail for the rest of his life. Themesong that annoying young girl is showcased lots in this issue as its her origin story and this time around she is a brat who mouths off to the cops screams how she wants a “Mouthpiece” to talk to them and is shot twice and bounces back faster than Superman. I really dislike this character as I find her annoying and just so dang unnecessary to showcase as much as they do. When she is shot I found myself cheering for Shoulders and was hoping that this would have been the characters end, even though I new that it was not. Roach and Honey Doll are two great sidekick characters who put their trust into Shoulders who in the end ends up betraying them both and leaves Roach dead and Honey Doll a woman scorned and left in his dust. Shoulders is a mean spirited man who only clearly cares about money as he kills, beats up a child and smack a woman around in order to get what he wants, his downside is his own ego as he thinks he can fly a plane and does to right into a gas tank blowing himself up and ending his crime spree once and for all…well until later in the comic strip and not shown in this issue when its shown Shoulders lept out of the plane and faked his death. Poor Breathless Mahoney meets her end in jail from sickness and while near death she is very upset on how B.O is being treated and not spending jail time like she is for the same crime, but right before death she forgives him. B.O Plenty and Gravel Gertie are in love and are two white trash lovers who find happiness with each other and while annoying they do make a great pair and it’s cool to see B.O get out of spending any real jail time when the states main witness Breathless passes away. This final issue in this volume of the series is really cool and I enjoyed Tracy’s cat and mouse hunt for Shoulders with the only downside of this issue being is the whole last part is just spent on the marriage of B.O and Gravel and while fun and silly I also felt it killed the pace of the crime story that the beginning built up. The cover is eye catching for Tracy fans and the inside art while slightly sloppy is still Chester Gould gold! Over all a great comic series that brought back great memories of car rides to Grandma’s house and visiting old small town stores and looking back when Dick Tracy claimed the imaginations of the youth. Below is some pics from this series and shows you just how cool and old school this comic strip truly is….I love it!

Original Tracy art 1Original Tracy art 2Original Tracy art 3

It’s a real bummer that Gladstone comics “The Original Dick Tracy” only lasted 5 issues as I would have loved to have read more adventures in this modern comic format featuring other top villains like The Brow and Pruneface, but sadly they canceled the series and later in 1990 the did a second series of The Original Dick Tracy that were bigger sized issues with card stock covers making them a little less charming for this reader. But it was great going back and reading these comic issues as I have not since 1990 when my brother was buying them from the local drug stores and newsstands.  This just reignited my respect and enjoyment for classic Tracy adventures. Our next update will be another topic that meant something to me growing up and will take us off the mean streets ruled by gangsters and into space where we will have to look out for Klingons as we take a look at the original Star Trek series and the Marvel Comics based off it. So I hope you’re ready to leave dry-dock and go on one wild ride with Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise! So until next time, read a comic or three, check out the local papers Sunday Funnies and as always support your local Horror Host, and see you in space next time around.

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Dawn Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2016)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, friends and readers.  Once more it’s my time to travel to Pennsylvania for the Monster Bash Convention, something that Juliet and I look forward to every year as we both love classic monster movies as well as enjoy Cranberry Township and all the wonders around it, from Evans City Cemetery to New Dimension Comics and everything in-between. This year I was really looking forward to spending some time with my lady and enjoy my time away from work and the stresses of TV Show making and comic book creating.  The start of this year was not a pleasant one for me as not only did my cousin Norman pass away, but I also had some stress health issues that were a major pain and downer.This year’s convention guests include Audrey Dalton from films like “Mr. Sardonicus” and “The Monster The Challenged The World”, Jimmy Hunt from “Invaders From Mars” as well as Horror Hosts like Son Of Ghoul and Chilly Billy Cardille in what could be his final convention appearance. So you, my readers and friends, are welcome to jump into the backseat of our Mazda 3 and go on another fun filled trip to Pittsburgh for Monster Bash.  For this update I am very happy to say we will be covering the George A Romero film Dawn Of The Dead as well as the IDW adaptation of this cult classic and iconic zombie film. So jump on in, and let’s have some fun with classic monsters and a town that almost seems like a second home to Juliet and me as we travel to Monster Bash 20016!

Monsterbash 2016 logo

On July 7th 2016 we started our quest for Monster Bash and stopped first at Ghostlight Coffee to get some good drinks to start our over 4 hour quest. On the drive we listened to two more chapters of the audio book “Marvel Comics The Untold Story” and chatted about Stan Lee and the mismanagement of Marvel Comics in the mid to late 90’s. In-between Ohio and West Virginia we stopped to get some lunch at Ruby Tuesday where I munched down on a New York strip steak and a baked potato.  The meal was pretty good and nothing too special. But outside by the Ruby Tuesdays was a strange giant McDonalds billboard with a sinister looking Ronald McDonald that was hidden in the woods…very strange indeed. The drive was smooth for the most part; we did run into some very wicked traffic in one section, but during this time we just chatted about comics and what our plans were for the following days. Once we hit our official hotel, the Comfort Inn of Cranberry Township, we checked in and loaded in our bags and for dinner decided to order the classic Eat’n Park where I got my usual liver and onions with mashed potatoes and rice, while Juliet ate chicken with sweet potato fries and strawberries. That night we watched some TV, and while Juliet read her book and played on her iPhone, I read a comic with thoughts of Monster Bash running in my head as a quick rain storm came down outside. A good first day and a very low key evening.

Marvel The Untold Story BookCreepy Ronald McDonald in the WoodsLiver and Onions Mmmm

The second day, we woke up around 9:30am, and after getting ready, we had some breakfast from Einstin Bros. where I had a tasty sausage, egg and cheese bagel with orange juice to drink.  Due to some electric issues, they gave us our meal for free! Once done, we had to find something to do to kill time until 3pm when Monster Bash opened and decided to drive around and just see some of the sights that include weird blocked off roads and a place called “Fun Fore All,” an arcade, miniature golf and family fun center. After the drive we stopped back at the hotel and waited for The Bash. When the time ticked down, I wondered what kind of theme car would be out front and more importantly what the statues were going to be this year as my guess would be aliens from Invaders To Mars, but again only a guess. We ate lunch at Max & Erma’s and headed to Monster Bash, and man was I hyped to get this convention adventure started. Walking across the parking lot, we noticed that there was no monster car up front and once entering the Hilton were the convention is held at, we noticed that major remodeling was going on and this worried me as the place where the statues have always been was gone. But after buying our three day badges, we quickly found them and I must say I was WAY OFF on what they were this year. The statues this year were the old woman from House On Haunted Hill, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Christopher Lee version of The Mummy. Walking around we saw lots a great classic monster stuff like posters, DVDs, comics, magazines, shirts and so much more. We saw familiar faces like Ken and Pam who own and run Cinema Wasteland, Jill from Lix Online and Horror Host Son Of Ghoul. A highlight of the day was when Juliet got to see original screen used props used in her favorite science fiction film “Forbidden Planet” including a very cool UFO. We walked around a while and enjoyed the world that is Monster Bash, and after awhile walked back to our hotel and read some comics and books and planned for dinner and a movie on the laptop for the night.

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For dinner who chose Wing Kings as they seem to be our go-to when it comes to eating and watching a movie on our trusty old laptop, and the film of the night we selected was the 1975 film Inn of the Damned as it was one I had seen many years back on VHS and how can you go wrong with a western horror film..right? From Wing Kings I ordered 12 garlic wings to keep the vampires away as well as some onion rings. Juliet ordered 6 Garmesan wings (a mix of garlic and parmesan cheese) and some Jalapeno Poppers, and we sat in our chairs and ate our food and watch a horror motion picture. The wings and the onion rings were fantastic, and Wing Kings really hit the spot.  The movie Inn Of The Damed was as weird, long and dumb as I remember it being when I saw it as a teen. I would say this was a great meal with a cheesy horror film that was a good combination for the night and a great way to end the evening.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 1 Dinner and a Movie

So your wondering what my first day haul was right? Well let me share with you my treasures this time around. I got the documentary DVD “Creature Feature 60 Years Of The Gil-Man” for $20.00. I also picked up the DVD-R’s for “Inn Of The Damned” for $5.00 (it’s the Cheezy Flix release) and a classic black and white chiller called “Valley Of The Zombies” for $10.00. I ended up finding some comics this first day like Attack Of The Mutant Monsters # 1 for $3.00, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Graphic Novel for only $6.00, Giant-Size Man-Thing # 2 for $3.00, Chamber Of Chills # 6 for $4.00, Worlds Unknown # 3 for $5.00, Hellraiser/Nightbreed Jihad # 1 for $5.00 and lastly The Tomb Of Dracula # 26 for only $4.00! Over all a pretty good haul but nothing to special but all worth buying in this monster kids head.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 1

We started day three around 8:30am, and after getting ready and watching a little TV, we went to brunch at a place right next door to the hotel called Pig Iron (not to be confused with the Zoo Crew member from DC Comics) where I had Chorizo Hash that was mighty tasty. Before brunch we also hit New Dimension Comics, and I found lots of great reads like some issues of Captain America, Night Of The Living Dead, Marvel Tales and Werewolf By Night. Plus at the comic shop I found the only missing issue of Marvel’s The Frankenstein Monster which means I now I have the full run. After brunch we walked back over to Monster Bash and found that a replica of the Ecto-One from Ghostbusters was parked outside, and this sparked a convention between Juliet and I on how cosplay Ghostbusters are taking over conventions. Once inside we walked around and I kept my eyes open for David “The Rock” Nelson as I wanted to buy some of his films, but sadly the quest today came back empty-handed. I did finally get my picture taken with John Russo, the man who helped create the “Living Dead” universe and picked up a few items before we decided to wonder back to our hotel and plan the rest of the days adventure. Below are some pictures from the second day of Monster Bash including the picture of me and John Russo.

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The second day Monster Bash haul was pretty weak with me only picking up three items! First, I got another DVD-R copy of the Paul Naschy film Vengeance Of The Mummy aka Mummy’s Revenge for the overprice of $20.00.  This will mark my third attempt at watching this movie on a DVD-R! I got the Marvel Magazine size comic adaptation for the film Meteor for only $3.00.  And lastly, the best find of the day is a Golden Book graphic novel adaptation of the classic epic adventure film Clash of the Titans for $5.00! The second day’s haul, while light, still delivered some great things for me to read and watch…if this copy of Vengeance of the Mummy works.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 2

After Monster Bash and us coming up with a game plan, we settled on the fact we had to visit the Snowman again as I really needed a Yeti Shake! As we started on the magical road to The Snowman for our tasty cold treats, the poor Mazda 3 started to have issues, and we had to turn back around and return to the hotel.  Once back, we looked for a Mazda dealer to take the car to on Monday morning and worked on some Sparkle Comics business while the weather outside looked like a storm was blowing in. Because of the car issues, we were stuck for the evening at the hotel, and I took this time to read some comic books and work on some Rotten Ink updates as Juliet spent time writing and reading.  Dinner was coming up, and we picked the ever popular Eat’N Park as they were just across the street and we knew the food would hit the spot for this disappointing day. My meal once more was liver and onions with mashed potatoes with gravy, a sticky roll and rice and for a treat a Smile Cookie that’s a pirate in honor of the MLB team The Pittsburgh Pirates. After dinner and reading, I decided to watch some TV before bed and wondered how the third and final day at Monster Bash would go and hoped I could get some David “ The Rock” Nelson DVD’s as they would be the perfect films to cheer this Monster Kid up.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 2 ComicsMonster Bash 2016 Day 2 Sparkle Comics Website WorkMonster Bash 2016 Day 2 Dinner

Day three of Monster Bash and day four of our vacation started with breakfast from Einstein Bros and good talks about Dawn of The Dead and Sparkle Comics while eating.  Once done, we walked across the street for the final day of the convention, and my quest to buy David “The Rock” Nelson DVDs continued. Once we walked into the convention my quest came to an end, and I found David Nelson and chatted for a moment and picked up two of his films! For awhile we walked around and just looked at all the tables and made our final pick ups as the convention closed a few hours later. With the car being down still, we walked to Max & Erma’s for lunch and headed back to the hotel to work on some Sparkle Comics business and to read, watch TV and just have fun being around each other. Below are some pics I took of the last day of Monster Bash including a very cool Dr. Phibes statue and a bad ass Wolf Man painting, plus the picture of me and Independent film maker icon David “The Rock” Nelson with one of his horror characters, The Devil Ant.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 3 pic 1Monster Bash 2016 David The Rock and MeMonster Bash 2016 Day 3 pic 2

The third and final day of Monster Bash haul was the following items: the VHS of the cheesy film The Bat People for $4.00, the CD soundtrack to Demons 2 for $10.00, Hulk Hogan hosting the 1985 CBS Saturday Morning Cartoon previews on DVD-R for $10.00.  I also got two Horror Host DVD-R’s for $10.00 each that were Zacherley hosting a teen dance show called Disc-O-Teen and clips from Ghoulardi show.  My favorite pick ups for the day had to be the two David “The Rock” Nelson DVDs as I got the movies The Demon Monster From Outer Space and The Fishman for $20.00 each.  I always feel good supporting true independent filmmakers and David is a great guy! Over all I got some great things this Monster Bash and many of them will be talked about again here at Rotten Ink.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 3

That night we ordered dinner from Pig Iron where I had a chorizo grilled cheese and fries, and we watched the Hulk Hogan 1985 Saturday Morning Cartoons preview that was not so much Hulk Hogan as it was Rowdy Piper doing a talk show style show with guests like Pee Wee Herman, New Edition and Patti LaBelle and in between showed quick clips of cartoons that would be airing on CBS. It was a fun watch as seeing Pee Wee and Piper talk to each other using sock puppets are things the 80’s were made of. After dinner we worked on more Sparkle Comics website stuff, and later I read some comic books that I picked up from New Dimension Comics days before. Over all the day was good but we both looked forward to getting the car fixed the next day so that we could zoom around town and visit some of our favorite sites in and around Mars.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 3 dinner pig ironMonster Bash 2016 Day 3 Hogan CBSMonster Bash 2016 Day 3 me and the comics read that night

On Monday July 11th after the Mazda 3 was taken into the shop for some TLC, we finally got to go out and do things on this Dawn Of The Dead themed vacation. We ended up having to rent a car, but this helped us at least be able to go out and do things for this vacation and not be stuck in the hotel.  We first went out to lunch and had a good meal at Moe’s where a steak burrito was calling my name. After lunch we headed back to New Dimension Comics, and I bought a ton more comics as I found their dollar room. After walking out of New Dimension Comics with many issues of Incredible Hulk, Marvel Super Heroes and Detective Comics in hand, we went to TCBY so Juliet could get her yogurt for dessert as she was craving white chocolate mousse.  As for me, I did a weird mix of chocolate and strawberry with sprinkles. After driving around in traffic, we headed back to the hotel, and later that night we had dinner at Eat’N Park and then watched WWE Monday Night Raw on USA Network. Over all a fun day filled with great weather, comic books, good food and the friendly staff of all the places we visited. Check out the pics below for some of the highlights of the day!

Moes Lunch 2016Thors Hammer New D Comics 2016TCBY Juliet 2016

On Tuesday July 12, 2016 we had to squeeze so much fun things in one day as it was our last full day in Mars and also the last full day that we had the rental car. So we decided to first go see a movie at the Cranberry Cinemas and saw The Purge: Election Year at its first showing. I really love the Cranberry Cinema as it has the look and feel of a independent owned theater and has a personality that many of the giant chain theaters are lacking and makes me miss Dayton local theaters like Page Manor and Englewood Cinema even more. After the film we went and got some lunch from Moe’s, and the meal was good as always.  Then we headed toward a place that is a shrine of Pittsburgh film making as well as what I would say is “Graceland” of horror, Evan City Cemetery. When driving to the cemetery I was telling Juliet that I wished that Dayton has a location like this that was used in a horror film that made an impact to the genre. Once at the cemetery and driving up the lane, I spotted in the woods next to the road a rooster and a turkey hanging out together.  Now that was random and amazing! The weather was nice and warm with a cool breeze and walking around the cemetery always recharges my batteries and makes me want to be even more creative and to drive my self more when it comes to making a Horror Host show and comic books. Plus walking around with Juliet in this place is something special and something I look forward to every year. After Evan City Cemetery, we drove to The Snowman where I drank a Yeti Shake made with vanilla ice cream and blue raspberry shaved ice and watched the horses in the field next to this landmark. Once done we returned to the hotel and chatted, read some comics and watched TV and ate some Wing King for dinner and ended the day watching TV.  This was a great day that was super fun filled with good times and memories of why I love this town!

Cranberry Cinema 2016Evan City Cemetery 2016Snowman 2016

On Wednesday July 13, 2016 we had to spend the morning returning the rental car and getting our car back and then hit the road back to good old Dayton and listened to the last chapter in “Marvel The Untold Story” and ended our Monster Bash Vacation…but this update has just started as we’re now going talk about Dawn Of The Dead, the second film in the Romero Dead series, and I review the IDW adaptation of this film. So let’s take a trip with the undead and chat about this beloved zombie film!

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In 1978, George A. Romero teamed up with Italian filmmaker Dario Argento to bring the movie going public a sequel to Night Of The Living Dead, and one of the worlds most classic zombie films was born, simply called Dawn Of The Dead.  Theater goers poured into the cinemas to watch as the living and the dead clashed once more in a battle of the living keeping their human sides in line as the dead do what they do and that’s eat. The start of Dawn of the Dead was in 1974 when George Romero went to the Monroeville Mall with his friend Mark Mason, who worked for a company that managed the mall.  After seeing all the ins and outs of the building and just how happy shoppers were, the idea of people surviving in a mall during a crisis became a joke between them that sparked the desire to start writing the script. Romero, along with his producer Richard P. Rubinstein, started to get investors, and when news broke of a Night Of The Living Dead sequel, Dario Argento jumped on board and helped get international investors among many other helpful things in return for international distribution. Once ready, they secured the Monroeville Mall and shooting started on November 13, 1977. The filming would start at 11pm and would end at 7am as during the day the mall was packed with holiday shoppers and doing late night shoots was better for not only the crew but also the mall. Other locations for filming included Harold W. Brown Memorial Airfield, Firearms Unlimited and Romero’s own studio, the Latent Image; all things in and around the Pittsburgh area. Shooting ended in February, 1978 and so began the editing of Romero’s next epic zombie film. The man behind the effects for the film is the master of splatter Tom Savini who also played one of the bikers in the film. In the lead roles are some fantastic actors all who are the true backbone of what makes this film work so well.  You have Ken Foree as Peter Washigton, David Emge as Stephen “Flyboy” Andrews, Gaylen Ross as Francine Parker and Scott Reinger as Roger DeMarco, not to mention such actors as David Early, Howard Smith and Jese del Gre, to name a few. Doing the music for the film is the Italian band Goblin, who scored many of Argento’s films as well as De Wolfe Music Library stock music. Romero has a cut of the film as does Agrento.  Each are different in many ways from music to runtimes as the US print is 127 minutes long, but Italy’s is 118 minutes long.  On top of that a “Directors” cut of the film was released on home video in the 90’s that is 137 minutes long! One of the biggest changes between the American version of Dawn of the Dead and the Italian version is that Romero’s is packed with comedy elements with the zombies being treated like jokes by a invading biker gang while Argento toned that way down and tried to keep the undead scary. The film also brought some very memorable zombies to the screen like Machete Kill Zombie, Helicopter Chop Top Zombie, and my favorite, the red flannel zombie; all of them gave the world of horror iconic scenes. The budget for Dawn of the Dead was $1.5 million, and it made $55 million at the box office, making it a huge hit for United Film Distribution who released the film. It was released with other 1978 horror films: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Damien: Omen II, Halloween, I Spit On Your Grave, Jaws 2, The Redeemer: Son Of Satan, Toolbox Murders and many others.  While Dawn Of The Dead might not have brought in as much money as say Jaws 2, it is way more respected by Horror Fans around the world. Now I am sure many of you who have not watched this classic film are saying, “but what’s the film about?” We will cover that with the IDW Comic Adaptation reviews.

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Growing up I was (and still am) obsessed with the Romero Dead films.  You long time readers know about my first time seeing Night Of The Living Dead on broadcast TV and seeing Day Of The Dead on the USA Network in my past reviews for the Monster Bash vacations that featured the Prelude and Aftermath of Night Of The Living Dead as well as the Fantaco Adaptaions of Night; not to mention my USA Saturday Nightmare update where I covered other films I have on DVD taped off the USA Network including Day Of The Dead that was given to me by my pal Jason Young. The first time I saw Dawn of The Dead was on a VHS copy of the film my brother had bought on a boring weekend.  We made a whole night of watching it that included snacks and making dinner that consisted of boxed spaghetti that I could swear he used to live on.  I took my place sitting on the floor with my bowl of spaghetti, bag of Andy Capp Hot Fries and my glass of Mountain Dew and was glued to the TV as I watched one of the most iconic and beloved Zombie films ever made.  I was drawn into the dark mood and grim nature of the events that were unfolding before my eyes. I can remember going from amazed to annoyed as the bikers entered the mall and began throwing pies into the faces of the undead.  I didn’t understand why the zombies were being treated like jokes taking away their scare appeal. After the film was over I can remember my brother and I chatting about it, breaking down scenes and talking about our favorite kills and zombies from the movie. My favorite character was Peter, and I can remember my brother and I laughing and joking about Flyboy and how he kept screwing up at major times during their flight to get to shelter and even in the mall. Dawn of the Dead will always have a special place in my heart as watching it with my brother was a fun memory, and I can still remember the the pure enjoyment as I watched the horrors of the living dead unfold before my very eyes. To this day I own the clam shell Thorn Video VHS release of this film and must say that the film is definitely in my top 10 zombie films of all time!

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The Goblin score for Dawn of The Dead (Zombi) is one of the best in the world of horror films as each track fits the scene it accompanies.  The main title is so iconic, it makes almost everyone’s top 10 list of best scores in horror history. There’s something about the way the score just makes the scenes pop, and the opening title sends shivers down the listeners’ spines. If you’re a fan of this score, you can find in on CD and vinyl, and it’s well worth the purchase. I also want to note that I play tracks off this soundtrack all the time on the WYSO show Alpha Rythems. Just wanted to touch up on this score as I truly think it’s one of the best in the horror film world. Plus the song called “The Gonk” that is played as one of the muzak songs in the mall is also the end credits theme done to the beat of chickens for the stop motion show Robot Chicken. I want to also note that the first time I ever owned this soundtrack was thanks to a old website called Rogers Basement that used to have custom made soundtracks.  He had one called The Dead Trilogy and had the music for Night, Dawn and Day as well as dialogue from all three films.

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Did you know that Dawn Of The Dead had it’s own strategy board game? I first learned about the game in the mid 1990’s thanks to my friend Geoff Burkman (who I’ve known since I was a kid.  I job shadowed him when I was 16, and we watched Dawn of The Dead to see if we could spot Gaylen Ross’s nipple in a scene!) who had the game and told me all about it.  You see, Geoff is a huge fan of the Romero dead films and even played a zombie in Day of The Dead…but that’s for a future update. When I started working at Game Swap in Kettering, a man named Martin started showing up and bringing in tubs and tubs of horror toys, movies, posters, comics, magazines and board games and in his collection that he was selling was the Dawn Of The Dead board game. This year I asked for a reunion of the Dayton Board Game Society so that we could play this game and the the group and I could share our thoughts on it.  The players were Josh Weinberg who was Fran, my Cousin Stephen Alexander playing as the Zombies, Jeremy Hoyt took the role of Roger, Thomas “Maurice” Smith was Peter and I played as Flyboy. The game was very strategy-based and Josh, Jeremy, Thomas and I had to think wisely as the goal for us as the human survivors was to lock all the mall entrances, get the rifles for Steve and Fran and lastly kill all the zombies left in that mall. The zombies goals are to kill at least three of the players, and if Fran dies the game is over.  They also try to infect the survivors, and once infected they can be turned into a “Super Zombie” and can amp up the other nearby zombies and add to the players’ panic meters. We decided to shorten the game and just go for the shutting of the doors as we bent the rules a little as really it was made only for four players with two playing as the zombies and two playing the survivors.  But we added one extra player and only had one man playing the zombies.  The reason for shortening of the game was that it was getting to be over two hours just to complete that task. Peter, Roger and Fran survived the game, and Flyboy was infected and later become a Super Zombie, but I must say I was proud that as Flyboy I was able to lock two of the doors before I was killed. Over all the game was lots of fun and was a good and spooky time to play with great friends. So if you and your friends are into table top games and are looking for something to play this Halloween season, I would suggest Dawn Of The Dead as we all had a good time playing it.  I am sure that if we played by the official rules it would have been equally as enjoyable.

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Besides the board game, soundtrack and home video releases of Dawn, some other great merchandise has been made based on this cult classic zombie film like t-shirts, posters, a homebrew Atari 2600 game, hats, books, magazines and of course action figures. Two companies stepped up and made figures based on this film.  The first was Reds Inc. whose designs were cheap and were not the major must have items for fans and collectors. The next company to make figures was NECA, and their figures were way better in detail and quality.  These figures were very much must-haves for fans as I can remember Andy Copp wanting them when released and had me order them for him when I worked at Mavericks. So if you’re a fan of Dawn Of The Dead, you can find yourself some great official and unofficial merchandise. Below are some pictures of the action figures that were made of characters from the film.

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The film has many memorable zombies, from the Hare Krishna Zombie all the way to Machete Zombie, but for me the stand out and the most iconic from the film has to be the poster boy known as Plaid Shirt Zombie, a tall undead bold flesh eater that our heroes run into at the airfield and who meets his fate from Roger’s gun. This grey skinned flannel shirt wearing zombie is so iconic that he has his own Halloween Mask as well as a zombie in the hit AMC TV show The Walking Dead was made up to look like him in a episode.  Paul Musser is the man who played Plaid Shirt Zombie and is pretty much only known for playing this role. Below is a picture of Plaid Shirt Zombie from Dawn of the Dead, and the two following pictures are him from The Walking Dead. This is update is in honor of you, Paul Musser, for playing one of the best zombies of cinema.

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On October 18, 2015 I finally bit the bullet and visited the Monroeville Mall.  I had heard rumors from so many people that the mall was not a safe place to be and that it was rundown and filled with shady characters, who wanted to rob you of your cash.  Plus it’s been said that the mall has changed so much that things didn’t look the same as they did in 1978. But Juliet and I were in town to meet Blue Demon Jr., and our great friends Pat Steele and Ann Rotolante were also in town and it was fun showing them the Evans City Cemetery as well as the Dead Museum.  The mall was on their must-see list as Ann is a huge Romero fan, and Juliet and myself had always wanted to visit it so it seemed like a great day to do so as the weather was cold, cloudy and rainy.  When setting up our trip to the mall, I talked to my friend David who knows a guy who gives big tours of the mall and shows you places scenes were shot and even could get us on the roof, but David informed us the night before we visited the mall that his friend had a family emergency and could not do the tour, but this didn’t stop us and we went anyway.  Below are my thoughts and feelings about visiting the main set for one of world’s most important zombie films, Dawn of the Dead.  So follow me into the Monroeville Mall!

Monroeville Mall

On the drive up to the mall’s parking lot I kept humming songs from the film as Juliet would chuckle, and upon entering the parking lot I noticed the place had a good amount of cars with many people heading into the main entrance as well as many of the big stores entrances like JC Penny. When entering the mall, a rush of horror nostalgia swept over me as I realized so many great actors like Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross stepped into that mall and acted out war alongside extras as zombies and bikers.The mall was filled with lots of empty storefronts and had a clash of old indoor mall appeal mixed with a modern 90’s updated look.  We walked around the upstairs looking for any kind of familiar sites or even some sort of plaque stating that this was the mall from the film.  While some spots triggered memories of the film, we walked past a vape store that was playing Dawn Of The Dead on a big screen TV and that helped add to the mood of the mall.  Also upstairs, in one of the side entrances, was a giant mural the depicted lots of classic stuff from Pennsylvania like Mr. Rogers and yes, a zombie.  Walking around we took many pictures of hallways, doors, stores and elevators all the while having good conversations about Dawn Of The Dead among other topics. Juliet was happy when she spotted a TCBY.  So naturally we all had to have a small bowl of frozen yogurt as we continued our quest of the mall. The mall had a giant Cinemark Movie Theater in it, and this made me flashback to the days of Dayton Mall having one. The ground floor was more of the same with stores like Spencer’s and no clear signs of objects or landmarks from the film.  One cool store had something called Zombieburgh Lazer Tag in it, showing the owner embraced the history of the mall. Finally toward the end of our tour of the mall, Ann found tucked away down a small hallway some photos and a plaque for Dawn Of The Dead as well as a room that read “Muzak Room.”  While small, it was very cool to see that they gave the film some love and added to our growing collection of pictures. After we were done and leaving the mall, it was nice to reflect on Dawn Of The Dead and just how Romero made so many places landmarks for horror fans in Pittsburgh.  At the time we came, the mall was not filled with shady people but normal families and lots of hot woman in tight pants, and not once did I feel like someone was up to no good. I was sad that the bridge, clock and fountain were all gone but times change and sadly in the world of corporate malls, those items take up room that could be used for vending machines or another lame pretzel cart. I’m very glad to have gone to the Monroeville Mall and to have spent time there with people who also love the history and atmosphere of this landmark. Below are some more pictures from the mall that I took while I was there.

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So there you have it, I wandered the halls of the Monroeville Mall just like so many zombie fans before me, and I can’t stress how amazing it felt to be there. While not as special to me as the Evan City Cemetery, it still is a must visit for fans of the Romero Dead series. So while I sit here in the hotel room in Mars, PA, I think it’s time for me to start taking a look at the IDW comic adaptation of Dawn of the Dead and see how well they capture the bone chilling magic of the film. I want to think Ebay, Dark Star and Bell Book And Comic for having these in stock and as always must remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So let’s head out to the mall with Fly Boy and see what kind of undead fun we can stir up!

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Dawn Of The Dead # 1 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 1 of 3

Fran is asleep and wakes up at her job at the TV station during a debate between a host and his guest. The doctor is talking about the dead coming back to life and eating the living, and worse, the station is showing outdated safe zones causing people to die by trying to reach them as the station manager is still worried about ratings.  Fran is met by her boyfriend Steven who is the station’s helicopter pilot and wants her to meet him on the roof later so the pair can escape using it. Meanwhile, downtown a SWAT team is surrounding a building being overrun by a gang, and they soon find out that besides the gang, the building is filled with normal residence as well as zombies.  Roger is a good team member and is friends with Steven.  He’s suppose to escape with them as well, but when he meets fellow SWAT member, Peter, they bond over the horrific things they are having to do in this building killing zombies.  Roger invites Peter to get away with them. The helicopter is ready and Steven, Fran, Roger and Peter all get aboard and while flying high above see that the zombies are everywhere and that humans are trying to fight back. Stopping at a small airfield, they have run ins with some zombies and tension between Peter and Steven breaks out as by accident Steven almost shoots Peter while trying to kill a zombie. They are low on fuel and need a place to sleep and soon find a giant mall and land on it’s roof.  The parking lot is filled with the undead, and they decide to go into the mall to look around.

This first issue in the adaptation of the cult zombie film Dawn Of The Dead packs a punch but also pulls many of its powerful blows as many iconic scenes from the film have been cut for this comic book. Gone are many of the scenes of Peter, Roger and the SWAT Team blowing away zombies in the apartment building.  Gone is Peter having to shoot the zombie kids at the small airfield.  Gone is Steven and Fran fighting for their lives against zombies in the hanger on the airfield as well as the iconic zombie who gets his head chopped off by the helicopter twirling blades. I do understand that things would have to be chopped out of this adaptation of a over two hour film to be able to fit into three issues  that total only 26 pages each, but these things I mentioned are things that should not be cut as they are very iconic scenes in the movie. But even with these cuts, I still found this IDW Comic to be very entertaining, and it captures the emotion and characters of the film pretty well on the slick comic pages. Fran and Steven come off as a loving couple who are both bull headed yet will watch out for each other no matter what, Fran has a sense of responsibility, and she goes into a rage when she finds out that the station she works for is giving out very outdated info to the public, while Steven is more a man who wants to protect himself and those he cares about. Roger and Peter are SWAT team members who have a terrible job of clearing out a apartment building where the residents are hiding the undead as well as gang members, and this sets them off to run away and go on a unknown quest with Steven and Fran in the helicopter. All the characters are very likable right now with Peter being my favorite as one panel shows him crying for having to slaughter some zombies, but he is still as tough as nails. The zombies are everywhere but have not been too much of a major threat yet for our survivors, and the classic Plaid Shirt Zombie is played down but still present. I can’t wait to see more zombies become more threatening and add that true gloom and doom to our story. The comic is pretty bloody and filled with gore as many zombies and people are blown away complete with brains and guts spewing everywhere.  The zombies do get to bite the flesh off of some humans making it feel slightly like a gore comic…with my favorite kill of the comic being the head shot of a SWAT member by the hand of a gang member as the panel is gross and well done. The cover is pretty sweet and has the feeling of the late 70’s mixed with a independent comic cover of the early 2000’s. The art inside is done by Chee Yang Ong, and it’s fantastic as he knows how to draw zombies and has many times with his work on other undead titles like Wake The Dead and Zombie Tales. Over all, this is a great comic adaptation, one that captures the mood and feeling of being here in Pittsburgh. Let’s see what issue two has to offer as we now enter the mall.

Dawn Of The Dead 2

Dawn Of The Dead # 2 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 2 of 3

The survivors enter the mall from a skylight and find cases of spam to eat and a small safe room to rest in.  As Steven sleeps, Peter and Roger decide to hit the mall stores and try to get things they might need like a TV, radio and food, all the while dodging and killing the zombies that are wandering around inside the mall. The noise of gun fire awakens Steven who decides to go down and help, along they way he picks up the blue prints of the mall and is attacked by a zombie lurking in the shadows, but thanks to a handgun he found, he is able to save himself. Steven joins Peter and Roger, and together they get the supplies they need and find that ducts above the stores can lead them from store to store without being attacked by zombies. During this time they also decide that they may all just stay in the mall for awhile. Fran is pregnant, plus she wants to learn to fly the helicopter and come up with a plan to rid it of zombies and keep them out. The plan is for Fran to keep watch with a rifle on the mall’s roof, Peter and Roger to drive trucks to block the entrances and for Steven to fly high above them and keep watch in his helicopter. The plan is going well but Roger gets sloppy and is bitten by a zombie, and this marks him for turning into a undead flesh eater.  But before he turns, he wants to help ride the mall of the zombies. Thanks to the gun store and a prize car inside the mall the group is able to kill off all the zombies and bask in the glory that is the spoils and goods from the stores.

The heat is on for our survivors as they are faced with not only hordes of zombies but also the fact one of their own has been bitten and is dying and at some point will turn into a zombie.  The plot of this issue really has them at the mall discovering what treasures are inside the stores and working together to secure the mall and rid it of zombies. Fran is a little more on edge as she feels like they are treating her like a den mother and not a member of the team because she is going to have a baby, and I give her big props for standing her ground and demanding respect. Steven, Roger and Peter all have dreams of staying for awhile at the mall and relaxing and coming up with a plan as well as listening for any news on what’s happening in the outside world. The zombies, while slow, are flesh hungry and try as hard as their undead bodies will allow to attack, eat and kill our heroes, and sadly for Roger, he has chunks of his flesh eaten and now is infected with the disease that is bringing the dead back to life. This issue is blood and gore filled as well with many gruesome zombie deaths being present complete with exploding heads. So fans of blood soaked comics will be happy as the splatter is present and gore-tastic in nature. Like in issue one, many scenes are missing like Steven running from the zombie and wasting bullets trying to hit him in the boiler room, and many other scenes are cut or trimmed down. I will also say that while Peter is still my favorite character so far in the adaptation series, with Fran’s attitude change her character has broken out of being just a generic background character and into the front of the pack showing she has more to offer than just standing around whining about having to eat spam. The cover like before is great and show cases zombies as well as the iconic Dawn of The Dead logo, and the art is once more done by Chee Yang Ong and looks great. I do need to make the comment that the characters look nothing like the actors who play the parts in the film, but they hold all the characteristics of them to make it work. This issue is not only very horror themed but also has the drama appeal that made the film so iconic.  So over all we have another great issue in this Pittsburgh zombie cult classic adaptation.  Let’s see what issue three has in store for us.