Destructor The Mighty Atlas Masked Crime Fighter!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  I think it’s once gain that time where we take a look at a character from the world of Atlas Comics.  For this update I chose the one and only Destructor to be the latest to get the update treatment! It’s always a great time looking back at the world of Atlas Comics as I really do think they are one of the best 70’s independent comic companies to be created to try and compete with Marvel and DC. In modern times, I would say that for me the companies that I find to be the best of the best in the world of Indie Comic publishers that I enjoy way more than DC and Marvel would be IDW, Eibon Press, Dynamite and of course my own company Sparkle Comics. Besides looking at The Destructor, I will also talk about a few things cool from my past and present. So if you’re ready to take a look at Destructor, let’s get our Atlas Comics on and take a trip with a hero who should still be around today!

When I was a youngster I was an occasional gum chewer, and while I was not like Violet Beauregarde from “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory,” chewing on some Bubblicious, Bubble Tape and Fruit Stripe while reading comics or watching cartoons was something I did from time to time. And for some reason one gum I really liked was a brand called Tongue Splashers that’s gimmick was that it would dye your tongue different colors. I can remember the gum’s taste was pretty gross as it tasted like dye and didn’t last long, but I will say that the blue ones were the best and had the best flavor of them all. As far as I know, this gum is no longer made and was such a 90’s thing. I just wanted to flashback a little and talk about it as I don’t see the topic of gum coming up any time soon here at Rotten Ink.

I have been listening to lots of music as of late and thanks to a customer at my job, I found out about this very cool record store online that releases classic 80’s Hair Metal/Glam bands on CD, and of course being a fan of this style of music, I had to place and order and check them out. The site is called Demon Doll Records, and the first band I chose to look at is Miami Riot and their 1990 release of Dirty Living In The City! The first thing I need to say is that by 1990, the music scene was starting to change and rock n roll was only one year away from the grunge rock boom started by Nevermind released by Nirvana and had many rockers trading in their hairspray for flannel shirts. But for Meatalheads like myself, I was sticking to my 80’s rock and stayed clear from the first big wave of grunge bands, and I have to give Miami Riot lots of credit for making this record so close to the big change that was on the horizon. This Florida band consists of Bobbie Apel doing lead vocals, Robin Wilde on guitar, Eric Vee on drums and Micki Lords on bass, and they look like a mix of Britney Fox and Poison, true glam rockers. Once I got the CD in my hands, I listened to it on my drive to and home from work and played it very loud, and was surprised about just how good Miami Riot is and how much they reminded me of early Motley Crue with a mix of Ratt, What I also liked about this release is that it’s not overly polished and holds a grimy feel to it that brings out the style of this music. Some of the best tracks on this release are the title track “Dirty Living In The City” plus “Rock N Roll Suicide” and “Boys Are Gonna Rock” are all solid tracks and deliver a true sound and song structure that only the 80’s hair glam bands could deliver. If you enjoy 80’s rock n roll, do yourself a favor and check out Miami Riot as well as Demon Doll Records as they both are worth your time and both are worth spending money on.

On June 8, 2018 along with my friends Josh Weinberg, Victor Bonacore, and his seven-year-old daughter Riley, I headed to Burns, Tennessee.  Montgomery Bell State Park was our goal as it was Ernest Day and this location was the filming site for his 1987 film Ernest Goes To Camp! The drive was long and took about 5hr 40min and the weather outside was in the 90’s, but the trip was worth it when we finally made it. Because we arrived early, Victor and I were able to chat with a super cool Ranger as well as few other cool people who made this event possible. We also got to take a picture with the Kamp Kikakee sign before the crowds showed up. Then we all went and got some food from a near by Wendy’s and waited until the event opened. Ernest Day was very cool and was a kid friendly event filled with all types of cool event like archery, canoe rides, hikes, arts & crafts, a birds of prey show, face painting plus of course turtle catapulting! Also they had some meet and greets with the likes of John Cherry, the creator and mastermind of the Ernest universe, as well as actors from the film. They also had a museum open that featured some props from the film as well as other amazing Ernest stuff. Plus many of the cabins as well as other locations used in the film were available to visit and hang out at, and we could go to the mess hall and eat as well as buy cool stuff like t-shirts and stickers. Besides hanging out with friends, one of the coolest moments of the day was meeting John Cherry, such a cool guy and a person along with the late, great Jim Varney helped make my childhood rule. I also really loved eating a hotdog and chips in the mess hall as it felt really cool and I imagined Ernest P. Worrell walking out from the kitchen with a big plate of Eggs Erroneous. I really enjoyed Ernest Day 2018 and even though the heat was killer, the staff and Rangers were all super cool and had free water all over the place. At some point, I will definitely make the long trip back, and if you’re an Ernest fan, do yourself a favor and go to this event. Below are some pics from this cool day, check them out and yep that’s me and John Cherry!

My pal Travis Hatch is an amazing bargain finder as he goes to thrift stores, garage sales, auctions and flea markets, and during his many hunts he has found me some really cool stuff from old Incredible Hulk toys all the way to amazing Halloween makeup kits. In June 2018, he found something very cool, an item that I had as a kid and one I really loved and wanted to get back when older, a Russ Vampire bendy toy! I can remember I first got this figure when I was a youngster living in Waynesville at one of the many antique shops.  The same day I got the Vampire, I also picked up the Mummy and had them battle each other on the walk back home. Over the years I am not to sure what happened to my original one. If I had to guess, it was given away to a cousin or even sold in a garage sale. But really quickly I wanted to thanks Travis for finding me another one as it good to see the hooded caped vampire once again in my home. I’ll now also have to keep an eye out for the Mummy as he needs to also come back home. Check him out below to see him in all his cheesy goodness. I should also note that Travis also found the super cool 70’s Frankenstein’s Monster puzzle that I am using as the background and gave it to me.

On June 28, 2018 Juliet and I stopped by Jet Freeze in Beavercreek as we had just gotten back into Ohio after a long trip and we both decided to treat ourselves to some ice cream! Plus I had to try the Blue Raspberry Ice Cream, that is also known as Smurf Ice Cream and was a staple of Kings Island back in the day and is now at Jet Freeze…the rain was coming down pretty good when we pulled in, and to our luck, due to the rain, they were not that packed so we ordered and I got a small cone of this Smurfy good treat. What a great flavor of Ice Cream as it took me back to the good old days of Kings Island when Hanna Barbara cartoon characters were kings of the park and at any moment you could see Yogi Bear or Fred Flintstone walking around taking pictures with guests. The ice cream tastes like a berry cream soda and is true nostalgic bliss and a great treat for a long day spent on the road driving home from Pennsylvania. Also if you live in the Dayton, Ohio area and have not tried Jet Freeze located in Beavercreek, make sure you do as next to the Dairy Corner that was in Waynesville, it was my childhood ice cream place. Oh and on a side note at Kings Island, the blue ice cream was also called Huckleberry Hound Ice Cream due to his color being the same as the ice cream.

With this being an update about a character who sadly went away before he could really take the comic book world by storm, I wanted to also briefly talk about one who never made it to print but looks like he would have been a very cool comic character and that’s Slug Slayer Of Darkness! As you long time readers know, there was a comic company from Minnesota called Dead Dog Comics, that was created by Chazz DeMoss among many other creators, that would be at Cinema Wasteland when I was there working for Independent B Movie or even Andy Copp. Their table was a must stop for me as I had to have the new issues they released. I always really enjoyed their Horror Comics and even bought many of their none-horror books and enjoyed them…but one comic that would have been cool but sadly never made it into printing production was Slug, a green skinned warrior from the past who returned to modern times in order to battle demons and save us from Hell of Earth and was very much in the vein of Spawn but loaded up with way more medieval weapons. The comic series was written by DeMoss and was to have art by Matt Munn that was very much a 90’s style and clearly Spawn, who was very popular at the time, inspired this unpublished character. So who knows, maybe one day this character will see the light of day soon or even I will be able to track down elements and do a full update about him! In my opinion characters really should never be forgotten. Check out the pics below to see what Slug and his logo looks like.

The Destructor is one of Atlas Comics’ most popular Superheroes who had many of the industry’s top free agents working on it including Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Larry Lieber and Archie Goodwin showing that Atlas meant business when delivering quality comics to readers. Just like all of Atlas Comics, this character had a world of potential and was a hero like no other as he started out as a low life thug and due to his father’s unselfish act, he gets a new lease on life and decides to use his life now to crush baddies. But even being an interesting character, he could not fight the biggest of all villains and that’s “Going Out Of Business” as Atlas closed its doors the same year this comic series was released. I first discovered The Destructor at Bookie Parlor as many of his issues were in the cheap bin.  I was hooked on reading Atlas Comics so I gobbled them up and would read them in my room or in the living room in front of the fireplace and after reading would tell my brother Bryan about him. At a young age, The Destructor always reminded me of Captain America mixed with a dash of Spider-Man and Daredevil. He could have easily been one of Atlas’s best Superhero characters and the one that could have fit perfectly in the Marvel Comics universe. I don’t want to get to deep into The Destructor’s character’s history as the comic reviews will do that. But I also really do think that Atlas Comics saw lots of potential in Destructor and he would have been a major player for them if the company would have lasted as all the talent were in place. So check out the pictures below to see our masked hero in all his glory!

So as you can see, The Destructor is a superhero who should still be busting heads of bad guys in comics, but sadly he could not defeat his greatest enemy the closing of his publisher. We are now at the time for the review of the comics, and I am really excited to revisit this series as they are ones I bought from the old local comic shop Bookie Parlor when I was a young teen. Sadly the old issues I had were sold off a while ago in order to get some money to help a young lady I was dating in my early 20’s who had some issues at her apartment…it’s sad I sold most of my comic collection, but I’m glad I was able to help someone. The issues I have here I was able to track down thanks to Bell Book And Comic, Mavericks Cards And Comics and Ohio Antique Mall who had issues in stock. I would also like to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready like me, let’s take a look at Atlas Comic masked superhero The Destructor! I want to also dedicate this update to Steve Ditko who sadly passed away on June 29, 2018 while I was working on this update. His art and inspiration will live on forever.

The Destructor # 1  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics       # 1 of 4

Max Raven is a crime boss of Harbortown and thinks that two bit hood Jay Hunter has seen too much and orders for him to be killed after leaving the hangout one night. Jay arrives home and talks to his father who is a scientist and has created a serum that heightens senses when the hitman enters and opens fire striking them both.  Before he dies, the father is able to give his serum to his son saving his life and making Jay rethink his life of crime. He decides to become the superhero his father always wanted him to be, known as costumed masked hero The Destructor! Max Raven has his hitman killed for not getting the job done, and Jay goes into hiding and goes out as Destructor to bring down Max’s operations one at a time.  This means war to the crime boss who calls in Slaymaster, a top underworld assassin! Max Raven sets up The Destructor at an old warehouse as Slaymaster is waiting inside and is able to get the jump on our hero, and bullets hits him in the shoulder and arm, but lucky for him the serum heals him faster. Slaymaster plays a game of cat and mouse with Destructor who in the end finally gets the upper hand and brings down the masked assassin. In the end Max Raven is set up by his own men who gun him down for losing all the rackets, and Destructor brings them all down and swears on the graves of his parents that he will be the superhero the world needs!

The first issue of The Destructor shows that besides Marvel and DC, Atlas Comics also knew how to do superheroes right in the 70’s! Our story is very simple: a young man who is heading toward a life of crime gets himself and his father shot and with both dying, his father is able to give his son a serum that heals him and gives him superhuman senses. Upon putting on a costume, he becomes a superhero and wages a one-man war with his former crime boss who is the man that wanted him dead. This comic series takes a lot from Spider-Man as both masked heroes think they have lead to the death of a loved one and now with new powers dedicate their lives to stopping any and all crime, great classic superhero stuff indeed. Jay Hunter is a young man who wants to make a name for himself in the underbelly of New Jersey and wants fast cash and respect and disrespects his father’s hard work in Science, but he makes a life change when his father is murdered and uses his own serum to save his life. Jay is also a young man who is plagued with guilt as he knows he is the cause of his dad’s death and wants to get revenge for it. As The Destructor, he is a crime fighting machine who busts heads, takes lives and cracks one liners! Destructor is very much into busting crime as he feels he owes it to his father and wants to make something better of himself. With his heightened senses he is strong, fast and can heal from wounds that should be fatal pretty fast. Our bad guys of this issue are Max Raven and his mobsters who are cutthroat and have no respect or loyalty even to each other. Max is cold blooded and once crossed will do anything to get his revenge of Jay Hunter…well that is until he dies from multiple gunshot wounds fired by his own men. Slaymaster is also a very cold blooded person who is the highest paid assassin in the world of crime.  This masked killer is skilled and is the boogie man among the scum he works for. But his skill doesn’t do him a world of good once he meets Destructor who makes short work of him and leaves him dead! The cover for this issue is amazing and the kind of comics I looked for when I was a kid and still do to this day. Plus I have to say that the interior art by Steve Ditko is top notch, and to me Ditko is just like Jack Kirby, a king in the world of comics. This first issue sets the bar high for the series as it captures what made Marvel Comics special at the time and adds its own flare and appeal to it. I loved this comic when I was a kid and it still holds up for me to this day. I can’t wait to read issue # 2 and see if it holds up as well.

The Destructor # 2  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25      Atlas Comics       # 2 of 4

It’s a cold night in Harbortown, and Mr. Lash and his goons are on the docks trying to pull off their next heist when The Destructor shows up and busts some heads and gets a name from Mr. Lash on who is the true crime lord of New Jersey. The Destructor leaves Mr. Lash behind as someone emerges from the shadows and it’s clear our hero has been set up. The Destructor heads out into the night still thinking of his father’s murder and how he must right the wrongs of his life. He knows he must rid his town of crime and chase off The Syndicate crime family once and for all. Big Mike Brand is the name given as the main crime boss, and he lives in New Mexico, while the man with Mr. Lash is Deathgrip a killer with a metal hand that is amped up with power who has been told to kill Mr. Lash after the plan is set in motion and he does. Jay Hunter heads to New Mexico and is setting up Mike Brand by getting to know him via his daughter as Deathgrip is also in New Mexico to make sure Brand is dead and Destructor gets the blame. Jay ends up taking a job at Brand’s ranch and soon learns that Big Mike Brand is sick and that he has been set up and soon must come face to fist with Deathgrip who has kidnapped Brand’s daughter and is going to crush her in a compactor in an auto junkyard! Destructor has a brutal battle with Deathgrip who is strong and a good fighter.  Once Destructor is able to save Brand’s daughter he also tricks Deathgrip who in returns gets crushed to death in the compactor.

Issue two is also a very great read that captures the true spirit of superhero comics from the 70’s and is great work from the creative team who brought it to life. This issue has Destructor going to New Mexico in order to bring down a high-ranking crime boss or so he has been told, when in reality he has been set up by a mechanical hand madman who wants revenge on the sick crime boss and wants to kill the masked hero. This time around Jay Hunter is a man on a mission as he has been a crime fighter for about a month now and is still plagued by the death of his father. At this point he as well has used his brain and not just his fists to bring down crime. As The Destructor, he is on a mission to shut down as many baddies as he can and best of all he is able to, one racket at a time, with ease. Mr. Lash has taken over the crime scene in Harbortown and is a scumbag who helps set up Destructor and is part of a network in the Syndicate who wants to take over with a sub group, and for his deed he is also killed by his own side as they feel he is a failure. Big Mike Brand was once a crime lord who now lives in New Mexico with his daughter as well as his close friend and is in the processes of turning his entire former crime friends in. The issue’s main baddie is Deathgrip, a bold headed creep who has a metal hand that is enhanced with strength as well as extreme heat.  He also does not mind killing and is brutal in his ways of doing so. What’s cool about him is that he meets his end as brutally as he dealt death. Once more the cover is fantastic and has that great 70’s superhero look, and as always Steve Ditko’s artwork for the interiors is great and shows he really knows how to draw superheroes right! Over all the second issue helps build the world of Destructor and is a top notch read for fans who enjoy independent heroes.

The Destructor # 3  ***
Released in 1975      Cover Price .25      Atlas Comics       # 3 of 4

The Syndicate is upset over the defeat and slaying of Deathgrip and blame Dr. Shroud, the creator of his mechanical hand for the defeat. They are also upset that this might slow down a plan they have called “Darkriver Project”, but he has an answer to their worries as he sends the laser whip slinging The Huntress and her two lions after Destructor. While back in New Mexico, Destructor drops off Angela Brand at the front gates of her father’s ranch and as she gets into it with her father for being a former crime boss, Destructor sneaks back into his room and passes out. Later that night Angela goes to Jay’s room and talks to him about all her fears and anger with her father plus all the lies she has been told her whole life, and Jay is starting to crush on the young woman. The next day as Destructor heads back to the junkyard looking for answers, he is tricked and gassed and taken to a valley in a cage to be hunted live via remote cameras by Huntress, her two lions and her assistant Lobo for the crime bosses who are watching! The odds are against Destructor as he takes damage from the lions that he ends up knocking out and tries his best to dodge Huntress’s laser whip, and when Lobo goes rogue and tries to kill Destructor on his own, he is quickly tricked and beat leaving him and Huntress alone to go hand to hand that leaves Destructor tricking Huntress and having her fall to hear death! Destructor escapes the room and finds the crime bosses and beats many of them up before escaping into the night.

The third issue is fantastic and once more has a real Amazing Spider-Man feel to it as the plot has our hero being trapped and hunted by a villain that is deadly and skilled with a laser whip. Jay Hunter in this issue is torn on bringing down Mike Brand as he knows the old man is near death’s door and is trying to make a change, as well as Jay is starting to get a crush on the crime lord’s 19 year old daughter. As Destructor, he has the odds once more stacked against him as he must survive being the prey in a human hunt that’s being done by a skilled hunter and her animals and sidekick, but like before, he uses his power and brain to bring down the bad guys and save his butt. Dr. Shroud is a mad scientist who seems to hold some power in the crime world and is the mastermind of most of the attacks on Destructor as well as the powers the super villains have. The Huntress is a powerful and skilled hunter and fighter who looks at Destructor as the ultimate prey, and she enjoys having her great cats and her hulking sidekick Lobo on her side to help in the hunt. Plus she is very much dangerous and a great threat to our hero. I like the side story going that Jay is falling in love with the daughter of an ill crime boss that he is torn on if he should bring him down. Plus I love how Huntress is clearly inspired by Kraven The Hunter who is a master hunter who always tries to hunt Spider-Man, it’s clear to this comic reader that Destructor is Atlas Comics version of the wall crawler spiced up. The cover and interior art both once more are amazing and great stuff for fans of classic hero comics. This issue is a great and makes me look forward to revisit the fourth and final issue in this series, so let’s get to it.

The Destructor # 4    **1/2
Released in 1975      Cover Price .25      Atlas Comics       # 4 of 4

Destructor is hiding in a cave in New Mexico when two hired guns come looking for him to collect a bounty that was put on his head. While taking out the goons, he meets three strange humans who have weird powers calling themselves The Outcasts. The Eye, Sister Siren and Kronus take Destructor against his will to their hideout deep in the cave. Once in the cave hideout, Kronus tells Destructor about the underground city’s history that includes scientists trying to hide from the atomic weapons nations collected as well as murder of the people who funded this city by the scientists over nuclear energy! The Destructor listens to the tale and starts to feel for these oddly powered freaks and thinks that he himself might fit in their world as he like them has these powers and fights for what he thinks is right. While above ground, the Army tests an atomic bomb underground and the radiation hits the underground city and soaks them all in rays. Destructor finds that he has the power now to fire power blasts from his hands, and, along with The Eye and on the orders of Kronus, he goes above ground to take out the armies radar as The Outcasts are now at war with the army to stop the atomic bomb tests.

The fourth and final issue, like all of Atlas Comics we have looked at, ends in the middle of a storyline that never has seen the light of day due to the company closing. The story in this final issue as well goes away from the crime bosses and trades them in for weird underground mutants with powers. The plot is straight from the pages of Science Fiction comics as well as movies as it follows Destructor in an underground city befriending a race of freaks that need his help to keep their society safe from the terrible military who are testing bombs underground. I need to talk about The Outcasts first as I don’t trust them as their sinister glances at each other comes off as if they are playing our hero like a fiddle. Plus they all have weird powers like Sister Siren can sing a song that gets into your brain and Kronus can send you to another dimension. They are shady and again I would not trust them. Destructor, who has a price on his head, finds himself in a war between the army and the Outcasts and he easily tricked into becoming a foot solider for Kronus, plus due to radiation he now has the power to fire blasts from his hands making his superpowers even more powerful. And this is the thing I really liked, the masked hero taking on crime in the city and the criminals hiring weird masked bad guys to take him on…what I don’t like as well is the sci-fi direction this final issue went as I feel it changed the character and the world it had created in past issues by adding underground super powered freak beings who felt like something Jack Kirby would have added in a random issue of Fantastic Four. Plus this leaves us on a cliffhanger as Destructor and The Eye are heading to the military base to bring down their radar and we never know if they made it or not! I really wished that Atlas Comics would have lasted longer on the comic racks as they did deliver quality comics that had good stories and cool art and should have been the third biggest comic company then and even still now. I would also say that hands down I would put Destructor in my top three comic heroes from Atlas Comics as I find him interesting and his short time in the world of comics has held up with me as I find them all to be very well done and make for great reads. The cover for this issue as well is great and not to even mention that Steve Ditko’s artwork is amazing and makes me miss they days of that style art in comic books. Over all if you’re a fan of classic superheroes, the art of Ditko or just looking for a vintage comic series to read I would recommend Destructor! Check out some of the artwork from this comic series done by the icon Steve Ditko.

I know it sounds weird, but I really do think about what would happen if comic and movie companies had stayed in business and what amazing projects they would have unleashed. Atlas Comics has always been one I think about as I really do think they had some great characters and many of their comics ended on cliffhangers. But we all can’t live in the past, and we readers just are not meant to know what fate was in store for Destructor. For our next update we are leaving the world of Destructor behind and entering the world of Horror as we take a look at the 2006 film Driller! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See ya next update for a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic spooky good time.

Horror Host Icon : Commander USA

Growing up a strange kid was a very fun way to live life. I was able to be me and not worry about what others thought of me, and I must say all my fellow classmates in Waynesville were all very cool kids and no one thought it was weird that I drew pictures of Satan, demons and monsters all the time. In fact, I can only remember one teacher ever really being an ass, and his name didn’t even stick with me because he was a piss poor teacher who was younger than the rest and walked around like he was the man when really he was a dud.  He was a computer teacher and he gave me crap for writing about Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and The Toxic Avenger.

Waynesville was a good time and was way better than the second time I had to go to Kettering Schools who had many teachers who targeted me for being “satanic” in their eyes. Many things helped make me the person I am today and have lead to all the cool creative things I do from no budget films with companies like Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video, to the TV show Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, to music concerts at local venue Gilly’s to even my early made comics of Benny The Squirrel and Robo-Racoon that were drawn with colored pencils. Of course my Mom and Dad played a big part in it, as they never discouraged me from being myself and even my brother Bryan played a big part of just helping my mind work with all his fake wrestling leagues and such. But of course entertainment also played a big part in warping me.  Things like pro wrestling with all the amazing characters like Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, video games on the NES with all the high adventure, Universal Monster movies with all the classic scares and horror hosts that brought me doses of comedy mixed in with my horror. The hometown Dayton area host was Dr. Creep, a lovable character who hosted Shock Theatre and later Saturday Night Dead.  While he played a part in my life at the time but more so later on, it was one horror host that aired on cable TV on USA Network that truly was an icon to me and a guy me and my brother tried never to miss.  You long time readers know who I am talking about..that’s right, the one and only Commander USA who hosted his Groovie Movies Saturdays and later on Sundays.

Commander USA 1Commander USA 2Commander USA 3 Commander USA’s Groovie Movies started airing in 1985 and would show two horror or cult type films on the USA Network. Commander USA is a retired super hero whose secret headquarters (The Video Vault) is located in the basement of a shopping mall in New Jersey and with his Heat And Radiation Screen That Protected Tel-Psychotronic Screen he would watch the film alongside us as well as his best friend and sidekick Lefty (his hand with cigar ash on it) or some other guest. Commander was part of the Legion of Decency and is a fan of all the cheesy goodness he shows and took pride in presenting the movie along side showing us how to make a mid-movie snack that was some gross mix of food that should not go together.

Groovie Movies would come on Saturday at noon and was the perfect follow up to the major networks’ cartoon blocks.  This was the perfect thing for Monster Kids of the 80’s like myself as later that night USA Network would have Saturday Nightmares that consisted of a horror film and shows like The Hitchhiker and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  Then after that, USA Up All Night would come on with host Gilbert Gottfried, making this the perfect station to watch on Saturdays. Commander USA would switch to showing one film and later even moved to Sundays before sadly going off the air in 1989. Commander USA was the first host that drew me 100% in and really helped spark my interest in slasher films and low budget horror flicks.  His style of hosting is what I would consider the best as he would have a storyline that would run through out the episode, and you would feel as if he was watching the film with you, the sign of a good solid host. Commander USA made the odd little kid me feel as if I was normal and that many of people out in the world liked the same things as I did. I know my brother and I have a lot in common, and I would almost guarantee that he would also say that Commander USA had an impact of his young life. Something about sitting down and eating lunch or a snack and watching Commander USA host films like Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, Friday The 13th Part III and Aztec Mummy are magical moments that some day I hope future kids of mine will share with their favorite horror host.

commander usa 4Commander USA 5commander usa 6

Jim Hendricks was the actor who played Commander USA, and he was a former radio DJ and theater performer. His other acting gigs include bit parts in Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, Brutal Fury and a cameos as Commander USA in the Christmas film classic Scrooged and pool shark film The Color Of Money. While not a household name, Jim Hendricks will always be one of my favorite actors of all time for his role of being the Commander. I should also note that Jim Hendricks is talked to in the horror host documentary American Scary, a film every fan of hosting should watch.

Jim Hendricks

Commander USA is a character who has a very blue collar super hero look.  Commander wears a tight red body suit with USA logo on his chest, star suspenders, blue baggy shorts and a polka dotted cape. He also always has a cigar, and his mask is blue grease paint painted around his eyes. As I stated back in my “Top 10 Should Have Been Star Comics,” Commander USA should have been made into a comic book series because I would have been a buyer of every issue. In fact I would love to see a comic series made even now about the adventures of Commander, and I know of a few comic artist that would be perfect for that job! Below is some artwork done by two of my friends, Eric Shonborn and Bruce O’Hughes, as well as an art piece I found online.  All are different in style, and all are amazing in their own way. So make sure to take a look at these amazing drawings.

Eric Commander USA ArtBruce Commander USA artCommander USA Art 1 Commander USA was joined by all types of guests from vampires to mall shoppers, but only really had two co-hosts/sidekicks that appeared in almost every episode. The most popular was Lefty, his right hand with a smiley face drawn on with cigar ash.  Lefty was a strong willed hand puppet who had a mind of his own. Lefty was his righthand man and was always around to help out the Commander in whatever silly thing that was going on. The second sidekick was Monroe, a mounted stuffed deer head who made weird noises and would always hold the Commanders coat, and sometimes he would have some ideas for The Commander to try. So I had to give both of these great sidekicks a shout out, and I can remember loving Monroe when I was a young lad. So this update is not only for Commander USA, the fans but it’s for Lefty and Monroe as well!

Leftymonroe

1989 was a dark year as it marked the end of the Groovie Movies and was a sad time to be had by all.  While we still had USA Up All Night and USA Saturday Nightmares, the Video Vault was closed for good and and reruns were not in the cards. For the following years, I was able to get my cheesy horror flicks fix via other horror host shows, cable TV like HBO and renting VHS tapes from the library and video stores.  While they were all fun ways to discover and relive the horrors of the movies, they were all still lacking Commander USA. I kicked myself for never recording the episodes on Beta or VHS, but the younger me was to busy taping Godzilla films and cartoons. Over the years my brother was able to track down some copies of Groovie Movies on VHS and burned them onto DVD-R’s, and we were both able to relive our youth and be reunited with Commanders wisecracks and silly jokes. We both spent time tracking down episodes and trading them to each other, and now I own a large amount of these episodes and even still to this day am inspired by Commander USA who is my favorite horror host of all time. One episode that I have been looking for is the one where he hosted the 1973 Hammer Horror film “Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell.” This was the only episode that for the first few times he showed it, my Mom would not allow us to watch cause it had the word “hell” in it! So if you have a copy of this episode or any episode of the Commander, please get in contact with me because I would love to get a copy!

So on this update I am going to take a look at some of the episodes I own of Commander USA, and I am going to tell you what the film is and what he does in each of these episodes.  So be ready to go back to the past when the USA Network was the top cable station to me and my brother.

Commander USA 7

Before I get into these episodes I should explain a few things, like first what is a Groovie Movie?  After growing up watching this show, I can give you a run down: it’s the following type of films, classic horror, cheesy horror, Mexican horror, fantasy, low budget action, slashers, goofy comedy, low budget horror, sci-fi and kung fu films. Now on each episode that I review, I will break down the host segments as well as give a brief write up for each film he is hosting.  The film write ups I will get off IMDB, and the hosts ones I will write myself. I will also give the names of two actors in the film as well as its rating and year of release. I will not be doing my comic 1-4 star ratings for these episodes because I have such a soft spot for all these episodes that the ratings would all be high! I will also review them in alphabetical order to make it easier. I want to also credit Stumpy Disk for the cover design idea. But now that I gave you a little more info, let’s get ready to enter the Video Vault.

Commander USA abominable snowman dvd

Groovie Movies: Abominable Snowman
Starring – Peter Cushing & Forrest Tucker   Not Rated   1957

Host: It’s a heat wave in New Jersey, and Commander is happy to be in the Video Vault and wants to do summer activities indoors! He makes boats out of snack food and sails them in a bowl of water.  He butchers “fresh” fish and plays a game of fish ball where you play bad mitten with fish heads, makes a slime zoo, opens his own cloths fashions and just enjoys the cool air in the Vault.

Movie: A kindly English botanist and a gruff American scientist lead an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary Yeti.

commander usa alligator people dvd

Groovie Movies: The Alligator People
Starring – Beverly Garland & Lon Chaney Jr.   Not Rated   1959

Host: It’s Halloween time, and the Video Vault is set up for the first ever Groovie Movie Halloween Party and guests include Lefty and Angela The Alligator. He also gets a visit from a zombie who brings him a voodoo doll that looks just like Commander.  He helps Dorothy escape a evil witch, makes some snacks, gets a visit from a vampire and just has a blast at his party as other ghouls and goblins come to party.

Movie: A newlywed couple sit in a train. The husband receives a frantic telegram. He gets off at a station to make a phone call, the train pulls away without him on it, and that’s the last his wife sees of him. Years later after a long search she finally tracks him down on his family’s southern estate where she discovers that a failed medical treatment has turned him into an alligator mutant.

Commander USA an american werewolf in london dvd

Groovie Movies: An American Werewolf In London
Starring – David Naughton & Jenny Agutter  Rated R   1981

Host: It’s New Years Eve, and Commander USA is going to have a pub party in The Video Vault and has some guest to help that come all the way from England in honor of the days film. In the end of course, he spends the party just with the help as no one else comes, but he has a blast with his new friends.

Movie: Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.

Commander USA Beast From 20000 DVD

Groovie Movies: Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
Starring – Lee Van Cleef & Paul Hubschmid    Not Rated    1953

Host: The nights film is one of Lefty’s favorite films and for the showing Lefty makes a reptile dude ranch play set! Tourists pour in to see the ranch and Commander orders and receives his very own Dinosaur who just so happens to be way to large for the miniature ranch as Monroe opens up a souvenir shop to help out at the attraction. Commander gets a little hungry and makes his own weird ice cream thats made with cheese in a can, cake frosting, avocado and ketchup, and when that don’t work he makes yet another gross snack. The Dinosaur escapes into the mall and Commander and Lefty must travel above to stop it’s rampage.

Movie: As a result of an arctic nuclear test, a carnivorous dinosaur thaws out and starts making its way down the east coast of North America. Professor Tom Nesbitt, only witness to the beast’s existence, is not believed, even when he identifies it as a “rhedosaurus” to paleontologist Thurgood Elson. All doubts disappear, however, when Elson is swallowed whole during an oceanic bathysphere excursion to search for the creature. Soon thereafter the rhedosaurus emerges from the sea and lays waste to Manhattan Island until Nesbitt comes up with a plan to try to stop the seemingly indestructible beast.

Commander USA Beginning Of The End dvd

Groovie Movies: Beginning Of The End
Starring – Peter Graves & Peggie Castle   Not Rated   1957

Host: Some one has entered the Video Vault has has stolen Commander USA’s Headcheese Tarts, and now Commander and Lefty break out a Sherlock Holmes dress up kit and are on the case to find his missing snacks. His prime suspect is Rose Rosewood whom has teamed with one of his rouges gallery before, but is she the snack thief and will ge get his tarts back in time to enter the malls headcheese bake off?

Movie: Audrey Ames, an enterprising journalist, tries to get the scoop on giant grasshoppers accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm. She endeavors to save Chicago, despite a military cover-up.

Commander USA Blade Master dvd

Groovie Movies: The Blade Master
Starring – Miles O’Keeffe & Lisa Foster   Rated PG   1984

Host: Commander USA brings his two prehistoric friends Fred and Wilma Fieldstone to the Video Vault to watch the days film. During this time Fred and Wilma dance around, eat a meal made of hearts, give buckets of blood to the blood drive and Wilma tries to help Commander sale a book based on the wise words given by one of the films characters. Commander also gets his mail delivered by a Wizard who he thinks looks like the wizard from the movie!

Movie: In this sequel, the Fighting Eagle returns. This time he must save a former mentor from the evil Zor. Ator battles cavemen, invisible swordsmen, and barbarians with his new sidekick Thong to finally have the ultimate showdown with Zor.

Commander USA blood beast Terror dvd

Groovie Movies: The Blood Beast Terror
Starring – Peter Cushing & Robert Flemyng   Rated G   1968

Host: In this episode Commander USA tells of a monster concert in Japan and the crazy shopping sales going on in the mall above as he is joined by a strange man who is a entomologist (studies bugs) who is trying to capture a very large butterfly, the man is annoying and keeps walking around with his net and being an over all pain and even with the help of Lefty he seems to not be able to run this unwanted guest off. The Commander is also visited by weird bug girls who flap around the video vault and once the entomologist uses his net on one of them, he pushes the Commander to far who frees the bug girl and drops a net on the entomologist!

Movie: A scientist, working with genetics, creates a creature that is capable of transforming back and forth between a giant Death Head moth and a beautiful woman. The creature masquerades as his daughter when she is in her human incarnation and feeds on the blood of her victims when she is in the moth form.

Commander USA Blood Song dvd

Groovie Movies: Blood Song
Starring – Frankie Avalon & Donna Wilkes    Not Rated     1982

Host: Commander USA is gearing up for St. Patricks Day and is making all kinds of green colored food from roast beef to mashed potatoes as well as costumes like the Map of Ireland hockey mask. Commander also changes up his look with a green mask and shamrock suspenders in honor of the holiday. He also cleans up around the Video Vault and Monroe is also dressed up all in green gearing up for the Holiday. Commander shows us a Irish Game called Potato Toss where he throws a potato into the air and shoots it with a machine gun as well gives us silly none true facts about Saint Patrick!

Movie: A psychopath escapes from a mental institution and starts a murder spree, which ends in the pursuing of a young handicapped girl, who once got a blood transfusion from him.

Commander USA Brood DVD

Groovie Movies:  The Brood
Starring – Oliver Reed & Samantha Eggar   Rated R   1979

Host: Commander USA in honor the the movie brings a crazy psychiatrist to the Video Vault named Fraud who comes complete with a straight jacket. The man is a quack and gets a crush on Monroe and speaks gibberish to Commander who seems to be in on the joke that this man is nuts. And in the end the Nut House comes looking for him. 

Movie:A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband’s investigation.

Commander USA CHUD DVD

Groovie Movies:  C.H.U.D.
Starring – John Heard & Daniel Stern    Rated R     1984

Host: Monroe has won the lottery, and Lefty is writing a bunch of short stories with Commander helping with the proof reading and typing of the stories. Lefty then decides to become an investigative reporter!

Movie: A rash of bizarre murders in New York City seems to point to a group of grotesquely deformed vagrants living in the sewers. A courageous policeman, a photo journalist and his girlfriend, and a nutty bum, who seems to know a lot about the creatures, band together to try and determine what the creatures are and how to stop them.

Commander USA death of bruce dvd

Groovie Movies:  Death Of Bruce Lee
Starring – Ron Van Clief & Phillip Ko   Rated R   1975

Host: Ralph Headwards shows up to the Video Vault and is doing a “This Is Your Life” for Commander USA! But the big issue is that the Commander does know some of the people from his “past” or they are stand ins for people he knows and some he just doesn’t want to remember!

Movie: Three rival gangs embark on a search for Bruce Lee’s handwritten “finger gifting” manual.

Commander USA Deathquake dvd

Groovie Movies: Deathquake
Starring – Hiroshi Katsuno & Eiji Okada   Not Rated   1980

Host: The Commander is pretty excited to be showing Deathquake and due to all the fright and sub plots of the film, he invites a woman named Sheare Fryte who is an expert in these things and wrote a book called The Fryte Report.  However while he was thinking she was a sweet woman, he soon finds out the she is a very mean diva who hates men!

Movie: Seismologist Hoichi loses touch with his family when he predicts that there will be an earthquake in Tokyo of greater magnitude than the one in 1923, which his father predicted. Because of this, he starts seeing another woman, who already has a boyfriend. Hoichi’s wife wants to meet her before she will grant a divorce. Eventually, the earthquake he predicted does come, which changes all relationships and exemplifies the character of the Japanese.

Commander USA Def Con 4 DVD

Groovie Movies:  Def-Con 4
Starring – John Walsch & Lenore Zann     Rated R     1985

Host: In honor of the day’s film and its scenes of space, Commander USA signs up to go to Space Camp that also acts as a Trailer Park! The camp sends a spaced out female councilor to help him get ready by the name of Astral Plane.  Can she help prepare Commander and will Space Camp even happen after a meteor shower?

Movie: Two men and a woman circle the globe in a satellite armed with a nuclear device. The third world war breaks out, and a few months later the satellite crashes. They survive the crash but one man gets killed by survivors and the other man gets caught. The woman stays by the remains of the the satellite but is soon caught by evil punks who have taken power.

Commander USA Devils Nightmare DVD

Groovie Movies:  The Devil’s Nightmare
Starring – Erika Blanc & Daniel Emilfork    Rated R    1971

Host: Commander USA decides that in this episode he is going to analyze dreams and nightmares and spends time watching the movie along with you, giving his thoughts during his breaks.

Movie: Six of seven tourists in a east European castle overnight are victims of a helper of the devil. Is Satan willing to spare their souls?

Commander USA duel of ultimate weapons dvd

Groovie Movies: Duel Of Ultimate Weapons
Starring – So-Jeon Yu & Hwang Jang Lee    Not Rated   1983

Host: Commander USA hangs around the Video Vault with his friend Debbie who is dressed as if she is from Japan, and together they watch the movie and eat and make a lot of snacks!

Movie: The evil Dong Won has unbeatable kicking legs and proudly travels the land proving his expertise. But when a young man loses his foster parent to Won’s deadly kick, he seeks out an old drunken master to learn a way to defeat the Master of the Leg.

Commander USA FINAL TERROR dvd

Groovie Movies: The Final Terror
Starring – Daryl Hannah & Adrian Zmed   Rated R   1983

Host: As part of a super hero group he has joined, Commander USA is allowing one lucky camper to spend the day camping inside inside the Video Vault! That lucky camper is a rich fun loving woman named Pearl who seems to be hyped to be camping in the Video Vault.

Movie: A group of forest rangers go camping in the woods, and trespass into an area where a backwoods mama likes to kill people who come onto her turf.

Commander USA Friday 13th 2 DVD

Groovie Movies: Friday The 13th Part 2
Starring – Amy Steel & John Furey    Rated R    1981

Host: In the Video Vault, Commander USA gives some camp safety tips like the buddy system and plans a trip to Washington D.C.! He also practices his acting skills that has him dancing with a fake bird and gives a silly daily joke.

Movie: After killing Mrs. Voorhees, who was avenging her son Jason’s death, Alice Hardy can finally sigh with relief. But there is just one problem; Jason never drowned at Camp Crystal Lake and lived in the nearby woods as a hermit all this time. The day that Alice beheaded his mother, Jason saw everything, and his heart filled with thirst for revenge. Two months later, Alice gets stabbed by an ice pick in the temple and disappears. Is Jason behind this? Five years later, a camp next do to Camp Crystal Lake is built and the counselors start snooping around the old, abandoned camp ruins. This makes Jason very upset, since his shack is next to the remains of Camp Crystal Lake and what is inside the shack shall be kept secret forever, even if it means killing nine people!

Commander USA Friday 13th 3 DVD

Groovie Movies: Friday The 13th Part 3
Starring – Tracie Savage & Dana Kimmell   Rated R   1982

Host: Commander USA is hyped to be showing Friday The 13th Part 3 and shows the viewers his new barber chair as well as the Merry Go-Around Wall and even does a recap of parts 1 and 2.  This is an epic showing for him as Friday The 13th Part 3 was new to cable and aired only once before on USA Saturday Nightmares. The Commander has thrown out his back and is waiting for his friend who can fix it by having him lay on a bed of snails, and Commander just sits around the Video Vault reading mail and eating a snack and gets a visit from vampire Count Phantom. 

Movie: Jason Voorhees, having barely survived a wound to his shoulder from his own machete, is back to revenge on all that visit “his” woods. A new group of friends come over to party at an area close to the campsite. This time, Jason will be stronger than ever, and gets a hockey mask from one of those friends.

Commander USA Gamera Vs Barugon dvd

Groovie Movies: Gamera vs. Barugon
Starring – Kojiro Hongo & Yuka Konno    Not Rated   1966 

Host: Commander USA comes face to face with his second planet doppelganger, The Evil Commander, who does bad things and they decide to watch, the film together. The two fight over the film with Commander being on the side of Gamera and the film and Evil Commander just trashing it all and more siding with Barugon. In the end Commander USA uses a spray and rids himself of the Evil Doppelganger.

Movie: After a treacherous expedition to retrieve a giant opal, disaster strikes as the opal reveals itself to be an egg which spawns Barugon, demon dog from Hell! Armed with a deadly tongue and cold beams, Barugon wreaks havoc on Japan. Gamera comes to save the day.

Commander USA The Hand dvd

Groovie Movies:  The Hand
Starring – Michael Cain & Charles Fleische   Rated R   1981

Host: Lefty feels like Commander USA is holding him back from movies and we learn that Lefty went to school with Michael Cain’s hand who is the star of this movie. So to make him feel better, Commander lets Lefty show his talents.  From stunts to music he does it all to catch an eye of a movie producer so that he can go work in Hollywood.

Movie: Jon Lansdale is a comic book artist who loses his right hand in a car accident. The hand was not found at the scene of the accident, but it soon returns by itself to follow Jon around, and murder those who anger him.

Commander USA The Hearse dvd

Groovie Movies: The Hearse
Starring – Trish Van Devere & Joseph Cotten    Rated PG    1980

Host: Commander USA has built a casket box car for the annual Dirt Box Derby and has asked for the help of a lazy mechanic named Backwrench to make sure it looks good and is built to win.  In between naps, Backwrench places all types of stuff the Commander doesn’t need on the coffin car and in the end his high bill might just keep the Commander from entering the race.

Movie: Jane Hardy decides to stay the summer in the house her aunt left her when she died, to try and recoup from a bad divorce. Little does she know, her aunt practiced witchcraft and is still thought of very badly by the town’s citizens. As soon as she moves in, she is haunted by a old black hearse and it’s creepy driver. Is she going insane or is she truly being menaced? She meets a friendly young man and becomes involved with him, but is he and the creepy driver one and the same?

Commander USA hercules 2 dvd

Groovie Movies: Hercules II
Starring – Lou Ferrigno & Milly Carlucci   Rated PG   1985

Host: Commander USA is at Mel’s Mount Olympus Diner for this episode in honor of the day’s film. The worker Feta is a goofy joke telling girl and takes a break to watch the Groovie Movie along side the Commander. The diner sits on top of the mountain, and the clouds are all around as The Commander gets some of the worse service from the greek workers, but he still is having a blast! And then at some point during the episode Commander is working at the diner and helping out. In the end the diner is closed down by the Health Inspector. 

Movie: Hercules searches for the Seven Thunderbolts of Zeus, which have been stolen by renegade gods.

Commander USA hills have eyes  dvd

Groovie Movies: The Hills Have Eyes 2
Starring – Michael Berryman & John Bloom   Rated R   1984

Host: Commander USA has won a collage degree from Publishers Clearing House but must pass a test given to him by some very bored board of education members. Can Commander’s super quick wit and charm get him his degree? Of course it can, but the important question is what is he going to do with it when he gets it?

Movie: A group of bikers, which includes some of the survivors from the original film, embark on a journey by bus to a biker race near the desert of the infamous incidents. However, because of a mistake they are late and decide to take a shortcut through the desert. Halfway through the desert the bus breaks down. While trying to repair the bus, some of the group wander off, and wind up in the traps of the survivors of the mutant family of the first. Then the mutants go after the rest.

Commander USA Horror Werwolf DVD

Groovie Movies:  Horror Of The Werewolf
Starring – Paul Naschy & Mercedes Molina    Rated R    1975

Host: When entering the Video Vault, Commander USA gets a “pentagram” message that asks if he would watch over his friend Lon’s pet named Chuck, but when the pet arrives he finds out that Chuck isn’t a dog or cat but a werewolf who is as rude as rude can be. Commander puts up with his friends rude guest for as long as the day’s movie and just as he is about to send word that Lon needs to pick up his annoying pet, Chuck turns back into human and is a pretty woman who ends up getting dinner with the Commander!

Movie: Waldemar, the renowned adventurer, joins an expedition to find the Yeti in the Himalayas. While hiking the mountains, he’s captured by two cannibalistic demon nymphets guarding a remote Buddhist temple and becomes their sex-slave. They transform him into a werewolf setting him loose to roam the mountain where he encounters a sadistic bandit.

Commander USA Horror Of The Zombies dvd

Groovie Movies: Horror Of The Zombies
Starring – Maria Perschy & Jack Taylor    Rated R   1974

Host: Commander USA decides to have a zombie super model named Savannah Bright visit the Video Vault in the spirit of the day’s film, and she is able to give him modeling tips and show that zombies aren’t very bright!

Movie: The model Noemi questions her employer Lillian about her roommate Kathy that is missing after receiving a call from Lillian, and she tells that she will go to the police. Lilian explains that Kathy is in an afloat boat in the Atlantic with another model participating of a publicity stunt, and she brings Noemi to meet Howard Tucker and his henchman Sergio that have idealized the advertising campaign. Kathy uses the radio to report that a ghost galleon without crew has arrived and Tucker sends a helicopter to bring the models back; however the pilot does not find them at the location. Tucker contacts Professor Grüber that studies the Sixteen Century galleon and they use a boat to reach the ghost vessel with Sergio, Lillian and Noemi. Soon Professor Gruber learns that the damned galleon is stranded in another dimension and the crew is composed of excommunicated Templar zombies. Now they try to leave the galleon and return to their own dimension. Will they succeed in their intent?

Note from Matt: This film that is also known as “The Ghost Galleon” and is the third film in the Blind Dead series. When shown on Groovie Movies it goes under the title “Ship of Zombies”.

Commander USA i married a monster from outer space dvd

Groovie Movies: I Married A Monster From Outer Space
Starring – Tom Tryon & Gloria Talbott    Not Rated   1958

Host: A wedding consultant named Sally McBride shows up to the Video Vault and thinks that Commander USA is getting married because of the day’s Groovie Movie! Sally, like most of his guests tries to sell the viewers her books she wrote, and Commander makes some gross snack and has some random guests pop in! Sally then starts doing home improvements around the Vault and while she is annoying, the Commander lets her go crazy with repairs!

Movie: Aliens from outer space are slowly switching places with real humans — one of the first being a young man about to get married. Slowly, his new wife realizes something is wrong, and her suspicions are confirmed when her husband’s odd behavior begins to show up in other townspeople.

Commander USA I Walked With A Zombie dvd

Groovie Movies: I Walked With A Zombie
Starring – James Ellison & Frances Dee     Not Rated    1943

Host: Monroe turns the Video Vault into a video watching night club, and as the guests pour in they are treated to the film of the day as well as other entertainment like a singing mermaid and a terrible stand up comic. The club is a hit, and all have fun in the Video Vault making Monroe’s idea a great one.

Movie: A young Canadian nurse named Betsy comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager named Paul. Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants.

Commander USA Infra Man dvd

Groovie Movies: Infra-Man
Starring – Danny Lee & Terry Liu     Rated PG    1975

Host: Commander USA has just gotten back from a Super Hero Convention and has gotten himself a SHERA Machine (Sanitary Household Experimental Robot Assistant) to help him do all types of stuff including make more great headcheese snacks! The Video Vault also gets attacked by a Couch Potato who blows himself up turning into potato chips, and Lefty gets a girlfriend who only has one eye. In the end Commander puts $10.00 into the SHERA Machine, and poof! a woman appears who doesn’t wanna go on a date with him.

Movie: The ten million year-old Princess Dragon Mom attempts to conquer the earth with her legion of mutant monsters. In response, Professor Chang creates Infra-man, turning a young volunteer into a bionic superhero to save the world. However, the Princess kidnaps Chang’s daughter. Can Infra-man save her and the planet before it’s too late?

Commander USA Its ALive DVD

Groovie Movies: It’s Alive
Starring – John P. Ryan & Sharon Farrell     Rated PG    1974

Host: Commander USA gets a good idea after walking through the mall.  It’s inspired by the day’s movie as he turns the Video Vault into “It’s Alive Nursery” where busy Mall shoppers can drop of their kids and have Commander USA watch them as they continue to shop. He gets a client who drops off her two monster kids who during the movie eat the Milk Man and rip the arm off of a baby expert! In the end, he must wait for his payment of $14.95 via check.

Movie: Heavily pregnant Lenore Davis tells her husband, Frank, that she is in labor. They leave their eleven year-old son Chris with their friend Charley and they head to the Community Hospital. Lenore feels that something is wrong and delivers a monster that kills the team in the delivery room and escapes through a skylight. Lieutenant Perkins comes to the hospital to investigate the murder and the press divulges the identity of the parents. Frank discovers a dark secret about Lenore and the baby.

Commander USA jaws of satan DVD

Groovie Movies:  Jaws Of Satan
Starring – Fritz Weaver & Christina Applegate     Rated R     1981

Host: Commander USA and Lefty get a make-your-own-radio-drama kit and decide to break into broadcasting and make their own old time radio show. Lefty writes a western drama called “Pa and Son” that is just plain bad, but Commander and him keep trying with many of attempts to make the show good.

Movie: A preacher whose ancestors were cursed by Druids battles Satan, who has taken the form of a huge snake.

Commander USA Kingdom Of The Spiders dvd

Groovie Movies: Kingdom Of The Spiders
Starring – William Shatner & Tiffany Bolling     Rated PG    1977

Host: Commander USA’s plant has a fungus so he calls on Dr. Root for help, and decides to have her stay in the Video Vault and watch the film of the day. Dr. Root gives plant advice as well as tries to sell the viewers things that she made like books and even a board game, making her whole appearance nothing more than a way for her to sell her goods at the Commander’s expense.

Movie: Investigating the mysterious deaths of a number of farm animals, vet Rack Hansen discovers that his town lies in the path of hoards of migrating tarantulas. Before he can take action, the streets are overrun by killer spiders, trapping a small group of towns folk in a remote hotel.

Commander USA land of the minotaur dvd

Groovie Movies: Land Of The Minotaur
Starring – Donald Pleasence & Peter Cushing   Rated PG   1976

Host: Outside the Video Vault is a raging blizzard, and Commander USA decides to turn the Video Vault into an inn for shoppers who are stuck in the mall and gets the help of Tiffany, a crazy woman who has worked for many inns in the past! He also hires a dim witted handy man, George, and finds that during this time of extreme snow people just don’t wanna stay in The Video Vault!

Movie: A satanic cult that worships a stone Minotaur kidnaps 3 young people and Priest Father Corofax and Milo Kaye must save them from the hands of this evil!

Commander USA Mako dvd

Groovie Movies: Mako The Jaws Of Death
Starring – Richard Jaeckel & Jennifer Bishop   Rated PG   1976

Host: Commander USA is having a tribute to Richard Jaeckel the star of the day’s film.  He even sets up a camera in the mall and has shoppers give their opinions of Jaeckel and his work. He also has Dr. Moist Brothers come in, and she talks about Jaeckel and the relationship with fish, and of course tries to promote her new book on the subject. Everything in the episode is in honor of Jaeckel!

Movie: A man accidentally learns that he has a mystical connection with sharks, and is given a strange medallion by a shaman. Becoming more and more alienated from normal society, he develops an ability to communicate with sharks telepathically, setting out to destroy anybody who harms sharks. People enter into his strange world to exploit his weird passion, and he uses the animals to gain revenge on anybody who double crosses him.

Commander USA mausoleum dvd

Groovie Movies: Mausoleum
Starring – Bobbie Bresee & Marjoe Gortner   Rated R   1983

Host: A worker at the mall’s morgue comes down and asks to store some dead bodies at the Video Vault, and the Commander allows it. Some of the morgue workers and other odd balls come down to work on the bodies or try and sell something as Commander is creeped out by the day’s movie. But once the bodies begin to stink, it’s time for Commander to want them out of the Vault.

Movie: Traumatized by her mother’s death, young Susan is becoming possessed by the same demon that possessed her mother before she died. More and more her husband and psychiatrist are noticing the strange changes.

Commander USA Motel Hell dvd

Groovie Movies: Motel Hell
Starring – Rory Calhoun & Paul Linke     Rated R    1980

Host: The Video Vault is now being used as a set for a Hollywood film called “Attack of the 50 Foot Cheesecake Girl,” and Commander USA will be the star and Mr. Grill is the director! During the movie Commander is reading his lines and meeting the crew, and he gets a shock when he finds out his co-star is Elizabeth Trailer famous z-movie star! In the end, Commander finds out he is not the star of the film likes he thinks and his big kiss scene with Trailer is scrapped, making the Commander see that he should not trust Hollywood.

Movie: Farmer Vincent kidnaps unsuspecting travelers and is burying them in his garden. Unfortunately for his victims, they are not dead. He feeds his victims to prepare them for his roadside stand. His motto is: It takes all kinds of critters…to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters. The movie is gory, but is also a parody of slasher movies like Last House on the Left.

Commander USA Night of Creeps DVD

Groovie Movies: Night Of The Creeps
Starring – Jason Lively & Tom Atkins   Rated R   1986

Host: Commander USA has allowed a sorority house on a tight budget to hold their prom in the Video Vault for only $14.95 for the night. Commander USA watches the film with the decorating crew and helps decorate along the way. In the end only one of the girls’ dates show up to prom, and he is just a brain in a glass bowl so Commander takes all the ladies out for an all you can eat dinner.

Movie: In 1959, an alien experiment crashes to earth and infects a fraternity member. They freeze the body, but in the modern day, two geeks pledging a fraternity accidentally thaw the corpse, which proceeds to infect the campus with parasites that transform their hosts into killer zombies.

Commander USA pandemonium dvd

Groovie Movies: Pandemonium
Starring – Tom Smothers & Judge Reinhold    Rated PG   1982

Host: Commander USA is being visited by Leo and Cleo, a pair of paparazzi junkies who take pictures of celebrities and Lefty! The pair is also on the run from someone in the mall and use the Video Vault to hideout in.

Movie: Tom Smothers stars as the brave mountie, who along with his trusty horse and bitter deputy Paul Reubens must track down a killer who is stalking coeds at a nearby cheerleader camp.

Note from Matt: This episode is missing the opening skit.

Commander USA Polish Vampire In Burbank dvd

Groovie Movies:  A Polish Vampire in Burbank
Starring – Mark Pirro & Eddie Deezen   Not Rated   1985

Host: Commander USA is hyped to see the day’s film because it’s his first time watching it and he wants all the viewers at home to join him on the watch.  But he also gets a guest to come watch it as he finds a 13 year old vampire kid who says this film is a must see for vampires his age!

Movie: A somewhat reluctant vampire is taken out by his sexpot sister for his first “night out on the town.”

Note from Matt : The version of this episode I own is sadly a very poor put together fan reproduction that cuts out many of the Commander’s skits and replaces them with segments from other episodes that deal with contests and poems. 

Commander USA Princess Of Nile dvd

Groovie Movies: Princess Of The Nile
Starring – Debra Paget & Jeffrey Hunter   Not Rated   1954

Host: Commander USA is getting bored with the look of The Video Vault and invites a team of decorating sisters over called the Little Designing Woman to spice up the look of the place. But the sisters can’t get along and argue the whole time and even during the free Christmas play that comes with their services. In the end, the Video Vault gets a minor change but pretty much stays the same, and Commander USA feels better about it.

Movie: Time: A.D. 1249. Shalimar, an Egyptian princess, striving to rid her country of its Bedouin conquerors, forms an alliance with Prince Haidi, son of the Caliph of Bagdad. She practices her intrigues both at the court and, disguised as a dancing girl, in the market place.

Commander USA Psychotronic Man DVD

Groovie Movies: The Psycho-Tronic Man
Starring – Peter Spelson & Chris Carbis    Rated PG   1979

Host: Commander USA turns the Video Vault into a place to help people with their fears and acts as a doctor to “save” them from what spooks them. He has some clients come in and tries to help them with fears of things like white paint and furniture and even gets accused by the news for taken bribes to show the day’s film from the director! In the end Commander gets a fear of other people’s fears and has to close up shop.

Movie: Just as Rocky thinks the world is proceeding along quite well, he dashes out of his barber shop in a kind of trance, as though possessed. Once outside he is driven to hunt for a victim and after he has found someone, he kills them with whatever forces are latent in his subconscious.

Commander USA Swamp Of Lost Monsters dvd

Groovie Movies: Swamp Of The Lost Monsters
Starring – Gaston Santos & Sara Cabrera  Not Rated   1957

Host: Commander USA gets a visit from a visit from a “Cowboy” who owns a store in the mall above that offers tacos, facials and boots! Commander does a lot of other things that all have a western feel to them, and he has fun with his Cowboy friend.

Movie: A disappearing body leads a detective and his sidekick into an encounter with a gill man.

Note from Matt: This episode is missing its opening skit. 

Commander USA They Still Call Me Bruce DVD

Groovie Movies: They Still Call Me Bruce
Starring – Johnny Yune & Victor Brook   Rated PG   1987

Host: Commander USA invites his friend Sue who knows secrets of the oriental massage and more to come to the Video Vault and watch the day’s movie with him. Commander is trained in the art of pressure points and even Kung Fu and is really trying to learn all he can from his guests who also includes Sue’s sushi chef and student.

Movie: Bruce Won arrives in America in search of an American G.I. who saved his life in the Korean War. He meets an orphan boy and together they land themselves in a string of outrageous situations. This high-strung farce culminates when a case of mistaken identity leads a gang of thugs to think Bruce is a karate master. They arrange a nationally-televised match which pits our hero against a monstrous brute, and Bruce is beaten to a bloody pulp.

Commander USA Toxic Zombies dvd

Groovie Movies: Toxic Zombies
Starring – Charles McCrann & Beverly Shapiro   Rated R  1980

Host: Commander USA and Lefty are all set in the Video Vault and are ready to watch the day’s film when all through it random people show up and do random things.  Even the Commander starts doing odd and random things, well more odd than usual. Over all the Commander just seems to be having fun watching the day’s zombie movie.

Movie: After drug crops are sprayed with a chemical by a passing airplane, the growers of the crop are poisoned by the chemical and turn into zombie-like mutants.

Commander USA trick or treats dvd

Groovie Movies: Trick Or Treats
Starring – David Carradine & Steve Railsback   Rated R   1982

Host: It’s a week before Christmas, and the mall above is filled with shoppers and Commander USA decides to show a movie more suitable for Halloween and has a guest named Nurse Nancy who has showed up to tell him his new gift idea (The Home Autopsy Kit) was foul. While Nancy seems negative she is also very flirty with the Commander who as always makes some snacks and even tries to sell the viewer paper plates with Lefty and his image on them.

Movie: A baby sitter is stuck watching over a young brat on Halloween night who keeps playing vicious pranks on her. To add to her trouble the boy’s deranged father has escaped from an asylum and is planning on making a visit.

Commander USA Vampires Coffin DVD

Groovie Movies: The Vampire’s Coffin
Starring – Abel Salazar & Aradna Welter   Not Rated   1958

Host: Rent is going up at The Video Vault so Commander USA and Monroe decide to open up a fast food restaurant mixed with a sock emporium to help pay the rent. Commander even hires a young woman named Wendy to help wait on the customers. Commander becomes the place’s chef and makes all kinds of gross dishes for his customers.  Of course by the end of the show the restaurant goes belly up and Commander has bankrupt yet another one of his odd business ideas.

Movie: Graverobbers stumble upon the tomb of a vampire, who turns them into zombies to do his bidding, which is to stalk and capture beautiful women.

Commander USA Witchmaker DVD

Groovie Movies: The Witchmaker
Starring – Anthony Eisley & Thordis Brandt   Not Rated   1969

Host: Commander USA has built his own Frankenstein Monster named FrankenSchtick and it’s a terrible stand up comic! At one point Commander summons the spirit of Jesse James with a can of tomato juice and spends a lot of the episode hearing the terrible comedy of his created monster and talking about the film they are watching.

Movie: A psychic researcher and his assistants investigate a series of murders of beautiful young women.

And with that this marks all the single feature episodes I own, and be warned at some point we will get into the double features!! 

commander usa autoAs you can see I have been collecting and trying to get as many old Commander USA episodes as I can get.  It’s been great reliving those days of watching Commander on my TV screen though nothing can take away those Saturday afternoons of eating lunch or some sort of junk food and spending two hours (four when he showed the double features) hanging out with my brother and watching Commander USA during his time of broadcast. I can remember the excitement of waiting for him to come on, and Groovie Movies became the true highlight of my weekends. Commander USA’s Groovie Movies was the first place I saw horror films like Friday The 13th 1-3, Final Terror and Motel Hell.  It’s the place where I became a super fan of films like Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell and Horror of the Zombies.  Plus Commander USA is one of the main people that made me the creative person I am today, and for that I want to truly say THANK YOU. If not for the Commander, I would have not seen half the horror films I saw at a young age because of where I lived, and seeing these films on his show as well as USA Saturday Nightmares and Super Scary Saturday helped spark the interest in wanting to make my own shot on video horror films. One regret I have is never writing to the Commander and becoming a member of his fan club.  In fact I am not really sure why my brother or I never did do this. I should also take this time to thank some people that over the years have helped me on my quest of collecting and re-living the Groovie Movies experience: Bryan Brassfield, Stumpy Disks and my pal Darren Young.  

commander usa card

In 2013 at Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio Commander USA got one of the highest honors a host can receive as he was inducted as one of the thirteen hosts of that year into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame. When I heard that he was going in, I asked if Baron Von Porkchop, the host I direct could induct him as I would feel that it would be the highest honor I could give back to him for being such a major influence in my life, but it was not to be as New Jersey Horror Host and all around great guy Halloween Jack was asked to do so. While I would have loved to have had the Baron do it, Jack was a great pick and did the speech with lots of class and respect. Baron Von Porkchop did get to induct Florida’s own Shock Armstrong, the 1964 host of Shock Theatre, and that as well was an honor as he meant a lot to many kids of the 60’s and was a great host who looked like Frankenstein’s Monster in a football jersey. 

Horror Host Hall Of Fame 2013 Commander USA

Commander USA was the logical pick for me when doing the first Horror Host Icon update as he was the host that was the first to mean something to me as does the next host on my list, but you all will have to wait and see who it is! This update is in honor of Jim Hendricks, the man who played Commander USA, and it’s also for all the fans of Groovie Movies who were glued to their TV’s and watched a spooky cheesy film and laughed alongside the Commander and his sidekicks. I have had a lot of fun doing this update, and while I could say a lot more, I think this will do for now as I can not express in words the wonderful impact this host and his show have had on my life.  If and when I get more episodes at some point, I would love to do an update blog and tell you a little more about the episodes I own…but that will be a while aways because we have lots of comics to read and other hosts to celebrate! Our next update takes us from a Commander to a Capn’ as we take a look at a free comic give away from Quaker Oats that allows us to set sail with the one and only Capn’ Crunch! So till next time, support and watch you local horror host and make sure to read a comic or two!

capn crunch logo

Marvel At The Movies Part 1

It’s summer time, so let’s go to the movies! Marvel Comics and movie adaptations went hand and hand in the 1980’s and many Hollywood blockbusters found themselves as comic miniseries, giving fans of both films and of comic books something to collect and re-read at any time, reliving the adventure. So with this update I decided to take a look at three films that got the Marvel treatment: Krull, The Last Starfighter and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension.  I chose these three to start with because I feel all of them have a very rich cult status, not to mention each could have easily been a full series after the movie tie was done.  Lastly I grew up watching all three films! While movie tie in comics are still made today they are fewer and far between as Marvel no longer focuses on them unless they own the character in the film outright. But with this update I will tell you a little about the film and my thoughts on it as well as break down each issue in the Marvel comic adaptations.  So with no further ado let’s get to what I am calling “Marvel At The Movies,” and we are reading this at the imaginary Marvel Theater.

Marvel at the movies

I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material.  I will give these comics a little slack on not keeping 100% to the film because they have only so many pages to contain it all in, but it will be only a little slack. I also want to thank Dark Star Comics and Half Price Books for having these issues in stock.

Krull 1Krull PosterKrull 3

Released in 1983, Krull is about a young prince and his new bride whose offspring will be the ruler of the galaxy and whose world is under attack by a monster called The Beast and his evil warriors known as The Slayers. When The Beast has the princess kidnapped, it’s up to the prince to save his bride and the world alongside a rag tag motley crew of warriors. I grew up watching this film and have always been a fan of fantasy films.  While this is not my favorite, it’s a good solid film with likeable characters and a sinister bad guy. I can remember renting this film on VHS from the public library and before that watching the film on HBO. As you long time readers know, I also was the cyclops Rell for Halloween one year and my brother went as The Beast, showing that the film did have an impact on my life. While I know a board game and an Atari 2600 game were made based on this film, I never played them. The film has gained a cult status and my friend Thomas “Maurice” Smith, founder of Beard Team Ohio, is a big fan. So with that let’s take a look at Marvel’s two issue film adaptation of the film.

Krull issue 1

Krull # 1  ***
Released in 1983   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #1 of 2

The world of Krull is under attack as an evil monster known as The Beast and his warriors The Slayers are laying waste to all the kingdoms and turning the whole world into a bloodbath of pain and carnage, traveling around in their spaceship called The Black Fortress. Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa are getting married, and legend says that the two will be the ones to save Krull and that their child will grow up to rule the galaxy.  But the honeymoon is cut short when Slayers attack the castle, kill as many of the men inside they can and kidnap Lyssa who has also captured the loving eye of The Beast. Colwyn awakens to his friends and family dead and his wife missing as Ynyr The Old One comes to his side and speaks of a magical weapon that will be able to kill The Beast once and for all called the Glaive that is hidden in a mountain in running lava! After retrieving it, they start on a quest to find The Black Fortress and pick up characters like Ergo The Magnificent, a goofy magician and Torquil and his ten men all who are convicts that join to get their freedom. They find the blind prophet Emerald Seer and his young apprentice Titch who try and find the location of The Black Fortress but are stopped by the even more powerful magic of The Beast. The group set out for the swamp to get a better grip on the location, all the while a cyclops seems to be following them. Meanwhile Lyssa is trapped in The Beast’s fortress and is being primed to be his mate!

This first issue packs so much action, drama and adventure that it makes you want to turn the page and find out what is in store next for Colwyn, who is a likeable and nobel hero who wants his true love back safe and wants to save his world from the death that awaits it. The comic captures the fantasy of the film, and while the battle scenes are not as epic in the comic, when The Slayers attack it still is just as impactful as it was in the film. The Beast is a mean spirited monster who almost seems to get pure joy out of all the murder and death and gets glee from keeping Lyssa prisoner. Ergo acts as the comic relief in the comic just as he does in the film.  Look at him as a less over the top version of Orko from Masters of the Universe or Snarf of Thundercats as he trips and makes a fool of himself almost at every moment. Torquil and his men seem like second thoughts in this first issue and just seem like they are around for the ride. Ynyr is used like he should be, as the wise old man who wants to set everything right and pretty much is right on to his on screen counterpart. Over all this first issue is a well done movie adaptation with pretty good artwork and an amazing cover that uses the film’s poster. For fans of the film like myself, this is a good read and for those who have not seen the film, this comic could be used as a tool to get them to watch. The only flaw that I see is that the storyline is pretty epic and this makes for lots of dialogue moments to get the story out that could lose some younger readers. Let’s see if the fantasy magic holds up in issue 2. 

Krull issue 2

Krull # 2  ***
Released in 1983   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #2 of 2

Colywn and his group are deep in the swamp as Slayers attack, and the cyclops comes to help.  After the fighting he joins the group on the quest, and they find out his name is Rell. Emerald Seer is killed, and his apperance is taken by a shapeshifter who in turn tries to kill Colywn but is stopped by Rell who found the old man’s body in the swamp water. Now the group is lost without a guide to show them where the Dark Fortress is.  Ynyr sacrifices himself to find the answer when he cross paths with the spider lady and her giant spider! Colywn and his men get the answer they need but lose a dear friend in Ynyr, but they continue to the Black Fortress.  Upon entering Colywn and his true love Lyssa are reunited and must use their love to defeat the evil power and grip of The Beast!

The second issue just like the first is a solid film to comic transfer and adds all the action and drama of the film to inked pages. Colywn is a likeable hero who you find yourself cheering for and in my opinion looks less geeky than he does on film.  He has just the right amount of badass in him to make his against the odds quest more believable. Lyssa in the comic and even somewhat in the film is your very helpless princess who adds the classic fairy tale feel to this epic adventure.  While she does very little to help bring down the evil, she’s who the whole quest is truly about. Ynyr The Old One is a great guide to the hero and is truly the comics’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, even dying like a hero like the Jedi Master before him.  In fact, this whole film has many connections to Star Wars! Rell is a nice side character who adds the brute power to the team much like Chewbacca. Torquil is a convict who still has a good heart and is noble like Han Solo. Ergo The Magnificent is like C3PO and is a goofy sidekick who even takes on a friend with Titch, who in the comic adds nothing to the plot. Even The Slayers are very much like Storm Troopers in their mindless attacks and the way they all look the same. The Beast is a kick ass bad guy who should have gotten more panel time and seems as if he truly could take over a planet with his army and magic, and yes he reminds me of a blend of Darth Vader and The Emperor. The Glaive is a silly weapon that mixes knives with a boomrang, but I do give it credit as it’s at least original and gets the death blow started on The Beast. The end battle should have been a little more over the top and had way more tense moments but even the film in my opinion lacked that. The comics’ art work is solid, but this time around the cover is a little lacking and could have been spiced up a bit. Over all this comic did a great job of bringing the big screen to the panel and does justice to the film by not cutting too much of its charm. Over all I would say this is a good comic film adaptation.

Laststar1laststar2laststar3

In 1984 a film hit theaters called The Last Starfighter about Alex Rogan, a young man with dreams to better himself through school or the military.  He works at a trailer park and spends his days with his girlfriend Maggie, fixing issues at the trailer park and playing an arcade game called The Last Starfighter. But his dreams come true when Centauri, an inventor from the galaxy comes to take him away after he gets the highest score in the game’s history and in his place on Earth an android named Beta who looks like him is left to work his everyday life. Alex is flung into a galactic war that leaves he and his alien co-pilot Grig as the last Starfighters and the only hope for mankind. As a kid I remember loving this film and wishing for toys, comics and video games to be made around it.  I did get the video game that came out on the NES, and I did get the comic thanks to Marvel’s 3 issue movie tie in run. But I never did get the action figures. I can remember watching this film on VHS and on cable while playing with Star Wars and G.I. Joe’s acting out my own intergalactic battles. So let’s see if the comic series can hold up to this fun 80’s sci-fi film.

Last Star Issue 1

The Last Starfighter # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #1 of 3

Alex Rogan is a young man with big dreams who can’t seem to get his life in order and get out of the trailer park his mom runs. He has a job working maintenance for the trailers and even has a loving girlfriend Maggie, but his life just seems so boring.  His only real escape is playing a video game called The Last Starfighter in which he has gotten the highest score possible! Late one night Alex meets Centauri, the man who created the game who takes him away to the planet Rylos to join in a war that threatens all worlds and wants him to become a true to life starfighter. Back on Earth, an android named Beta has taken the appearance and life of Alex so that his loved ones would not worry about him. After listening to a meeting for new recruits, Alex decides he wants to go home even after meeting his reptile like co-pilot Grig, but everything stops when a hologram of the sinister Xur leader of the Ko-Dan Armada appears.

This first issue is a great way to introduce you to Alex and his family and girlfriend as they live their everyday lives in the trailer park. It also makes you really root for Alex as all he really wants to do is better his life with a good college education. While the issue leaves him almost spineless as he wants to leave instead help fight the good fight, you can see a true hero in the making. Even in the comic Centauri comes off like a good guy but also has that sleazy used car salesman charm. Maggie comes off as a loving and supportive girlfriend and is the nice counter piece for Alex to really care about. Other than that these are the only three characters to truly stand out, and I look forward to seeing more of Xur and Grig.  The comic follows the movie pretty well and holds onto the kid friendly sci-fi action and adventure appeal that made it a cult classic to this day. The art work is a little weak and in spots looks unfinished, while the cover is pretty good and eye catching for the time. I can’t wait to read issue two and get more into this adventure.

Last Star issue 2

The Last Starfighter # 2  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #2 of 3

Xur’s message is clear, and it’s that anyone who stands in his way of ruling the world is as good as dead.  Alex hears this warning and wants to go back home.  Disappointed, Centauri starts the journey to take him home. After Alex leaves Xdur and his Commander Kril unleash an attack on the starfighter base that kills them all.  While on Earth Centauri gives Alex a communicator if ever he changes his mind and wants to help fight the good fight. Alex returns home and gets the cold shoulder from Maggie and also finds Beta sleeping in his bed.  The two talk about what’s happened in Alex’s life on Earth while he was away.  When Beta is leaving an alien bounty hunter tries to kill Alex, and Centauri comes to the rescue but takes a shot in the process. Alex sees now that he must take a stand and returns with the wounded Centauri to Rylos where he not only sees his guide and now friend dying from his wound but also sees that the whole star fleet has been killed in an attack.  Grig has survived, and the two get aboard a starship to prepare for battle, and that’s just what they do as enemy fighters approach and Alex finds out that he truly is the last starfighter!

This second issue is filled with sneak attacks, death, assassination attempts and finding one’s inner strength. Alex, while still reluctant to be a hero, steps up when he sees that the whole universe needs him to be a hero and stop Xur and his goons from taking over.  While he still speaks of going home even, he knows he must do the right thing. Beta is a cool character who mimics Alex, and Centauri shows that while he might be a con man, he is a great friend and truly a believer in the cause to stop Xur once and for all.  In this issue it appears that he is dying from a gun shot that was meant for Alex. Grig is more fleshed out in this issue and acts not only as a partner but also as a coach as he boosts Alex’s ego and self worth. Xur is a spoiled brat and comes off not so much as an evil mastermind but more of a child who wants a new toy off the shelf when his mom told him no.  That said, he does have the means to take what he wants as he had his men blow up the starfighter base killing almost all of the world’s hope. I like the idea that hitmen are sent to kill Alex because he was at one starfighter meeting, showing that Xur is cold blooded and wants no one to oppose him. The issue’s art work, much like issue one, seems not done in spots and at times Alex looks laughable with the lack of human expression.The cover is pretty good and makes the issue look action packed.  I say this is a pretty good issue that kept me reading and even remembering the parts of the film so let’s get to issue 3!

Last Star Issue 3

The Last Starfighter # 3  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #3 of 3

Alex and Grig are at war in space while Beta is on a date with Maggie when he is attacked by another alien hit man who shoots the robot, and he now must tell Maggie that he is in fact a robot and that they must stop the alien from reporting back that the real Alex is alive.  They do so by crashing a truck into his spaceship. Meanwhile Alex and Grig are one ship against many, and Xur is overthrown by Commander Kril who now is in control and wants to destroy Alex and control the universe. Alex beats the odds and brings down the attacking army and becomes a hero to the whole galaxy.  He returns to Earth to visit his mom and brother and then takes Maggie to space with him so they can live happily ever after.  Oh yeah, Centauri is alive and proud of his friend!

This final issue is fully about the space battle that shows Alex as the hero we all know he can be. Alex is a great character who as the issues go on gains more and more self esteem and shapes up to be a hero much like Luke Skywalker of Star Wars and Prince Colwyn of Krull. Xur, who thinks he holds the power, is shown to be nothing more then a pawn for the war hungry aliens who put up with him until they felt like they had the upper hand. Xur is the perfect spoiled brat character who you’re happy to see betrayed. Grig is a good side character who acts as the character who helps push Alex to his potential though I wish in the comic they would have given him a little more panel time. Commander Kril for most of the 3 issue series is nothing more than a lapdog for Xur, but when he turns on his one time ruler he is also shown to be a madman. Maggie is a good girlfriend character who is loyal to her boyfriend even when he is acting odd. And last Centauri is a perfect wise old man character that is one part conman and one part nice guy. The comic series does a pretty damn good job at making the film come to ink and the only true downfall to the mini series is the fact that the art is below par and not as solid as most Marvel Comics at that time. While some things were changed slightly from film to comic, it still is a good film adaptation that only has its art as it’s negative marks.

Buckaroo 1Buckaroo posterBackaroo 3

In 1984 moviegoers were treated to a fun over the top Sci-Fi adventure film thanks to 20th Century Fox that told the tale of Buckaroo Banzai, a scientist and rock star who along with his band must try and stop an invasion of inter-dimensional alien beings from another planet lead by Lord John Whorfin who has taken over the body of a fellow scientist Dr. Lizardo. The film was a strange and fun film that I remember watching as a kid and even remember parodying the end credits with my brother. We mostly saw this film thanks to HBO and a beta tape that we recorded it on.  While I liked the film, I was never a super fan like friends of mine are like artist Eric Shonborn. The cast was a big plus for me as I was a fan of Peter Weller who plays Buckaroo, John Lithgow who played Lizardo/Whorfin, Christopher Lloyd who played Bigboote and even Jeff Goldblum who played New Jersey at the time. Sadly the film, while a cult classic today, never had toys or board games based around it, but did have a text based game for Adam Computer/DOS and only had this two issue film adaptation as far as comic books go for the longest time. So let’s see how this over the top film transfers to comic ink, shall we?

Backaroo issue 1

Buckaroo Banzai # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #1 of 2

Buckaroo Banzai is performing surgery and rushes to a test site were he takes a super fast car and has it travel through a solid mountain and into the 8th Dimension.  This is a good and bad thing. While the experiment is a success, he also sees the inter-dimension and returns with a goo like substance attached to the car. Dr. Lizardo, who is possessed with the inter-dimensional sprit of Lord John Whorfin, escapes from the asylum when hearing about the test run and wants to open a portal to his world so that his people can take over Earth as we know it. That night Buckaroo Banzai along with his band The Hong Kong Calvalers (Rawhide,Reno,Perfect Tommy, New Jersey and Pinky) are playing at a club, and before they take the stage they find out that the goo is alive.  During the show Buckaroo meets Penny, a woman who captures his eye and his heart.  After she tries to kill herself Banzai befriends the young woman and she goes to the press conference set to speak about the goo and during this event The Black Lectroids, a good race from the 8th Dimension share knowledge about the Red Lectroids and Buckaroo finds that two of the evil are among the press at the event.

This comic has to cram in so much story that it comes off really slow, and while entertaining still lacks the real excitement that one would expect based on the adventures of Buckaroo. Banzai is a man of many talents who is trying to live life to its fullest and is a doctor, scientist, rock star and saver of the masses all rolled into one cool dude. Buckaroo is a prime example of Sci-Fi hero of the 80’s, and by that I mean that he is over done and has that nerd mixed with cool guy attitude.  The Hong Kong Calvalers are given very little to do in this first issue and are mostly used to fill in plot and to be background filler. Lord John Whorfin is bat shit crazy and is a perfect wild eyed bad guy, and the race he rules over The Red Lectroid’s are perfect war hungry, world conquering baddies. Penny kind of gets the short end of the stick as her back story is rushed and not as impactful as it should be. Over all while this is an entertaining comic, the rushed feel of it takes the magic away and makes what could have been a solid movie adaptation into an okay one. The cover is well done and one of the better ones done for this whole review.  The art work is also well done and has that classic early 80’s Marvel look.  So let’s jump into issue 2.

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Buckaroo Banzai # 2  **
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #2 of 2

Buckaroo and his band chase the Red Lectroid’s out of the press conference, and they become the target of a battle the leaves them finding a Black Lectroid sent to Earth to help in the fight to save Earth. Along the way Penny finds out she had a twin sister that was once Banzai’s girlfriend and is kidnapped and put into a coma, and a member of the band is killed! This all leads up to a showdown with Lord John Whorfin that has them flying spaceships, leaving the Red Lectroids blown up, Banzai saving the world and his new girlfriend Penny with a kiss.

This second issue is where all the action is at, and while again rushed, this issue is an improvement over the first and delivers more of the story not just the action. Buckaroo in this issue is more of what one would say is a hero and goes around kicking butt and saving lives, Banzai is a good comic book ready character. Lord John Whorfin, while again a good crazy bad guy, just does not seem as much of a threat as he should be  He could have gone back to Sci-Fi bad guy school and learned a little from other villains. The Hong Kong Calvalers again are background guys, but do add to the over all feel of the story and are the perfect background soldiers all with their own personalities. Penny is a good love intrest and when they show she had a sister who she never knew who looked just like her, it makes more sense why Banzai fell so fast for her. The cover on this issue is a little lame.  While eye catching, it’s not nearly as cool as issue one’s, and the art is the same good solid work it was before and seeing the comic version of Peter Weller (Buckaroo Banzai) is pretty cool. I would say fans of the film might feel a little cheated by these two issues, but I am sure they would get some enjoyment out of them as well.

So now I would like to take this time to have a fantasy warfare between all the films’ bad guys.  So it will be Krull’s The Beast going up against Last Star Fighter’s Xur and Buckaroo Banzai’s Lord John Whorfin.  They will be doing battle in Yellow Springs Ohio on a Sunday afternoon. So let’s get ready to watch a rumble of 80’s baddies who all want to take over our world!

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It’s a sunny day in Yellow Springs, and the street musicians are in full swing as Tom’s Market and Dark Star Comics are packed with customers as is Dino’s Coffee Shop where would-be ruler Xur sits sipping his Carmel Pumpkin Latte and mumbling to all who will listen about being so close to ruling the Galaxy and almost killing the last starfighter, when he is interrupted by a voice proclaiming that nobody cares about his failures.  This voice belongs to Lord John Whorfin who is gulping down his Frozen Hot Chocolate. Xur takes offense and walks over and slaps Whorfin across his face and challenges him to a duel outside the Whorfin gladly accepts. The two go outside spewing hateful remarks to each other, and as they set the rules for the duel the ground starts to shake and crack as the Black Fortress appears in the middle of town next to Ha Ha Pizza and The Beast comes walking out as everyone looks on with horror the two feuding baddies get upset that this volcano headed monster stole their spotlight and decide that they will start a fight with him and show the people who are the ones they should fear. The Beast makes his way toward Ha Ha Pizza, after choosing to eat there over Sub Way across the street, as Xur and Whorfin quickly stand in front of the door and try to intimidate him.  This don’t work as quickly The Beast grabs the head of Xur and crushes it with his bare hands and makes ground beef of it as Whorfin lands a left hook to The Beast’s jaw that don’t phase the monster who then in turn uppercuts Whorfin so hard he flies through the air and lands in John Bryon Park and the impact snaps his neck like a twig. The people of the town cheer as The Beast is handed his large sausage pizza and walks back to the Black Fortress which disappears to end yet another day in Yellow Springs.

Winner – The Beast

Hands down, this would be an easy win for The Beast who would truly make short work of Xur and Whorfin combined, while the latter would at least put up a better fight. So after reading all three films comic adaptations, it’s time for me to pick the one I think should have gotten a full comic series from Marvel that would have moved past just the film and into its own epic adventure much like they did with Star Wars and Star Trek. While I truly think all three would have made amazing comic series and all three have so much more adventures to be had for the hero, I was really torn between Krull and The Last Starfighter.  After days of thinking about it, I have chosen Krull because like Conan, Red Sonja and Kull, the film opens itself to be made into one hell of a good action series and many more bad guys could be made to try and take over the kingdom.

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So while the clean up crews here at the Marvel Theater clear the floors of dropped popcorn and spilled soda and the last Screening of Buckaroo Banzai is letting out, I am going to stay seated for awhile, soak in all the epic comics I just read and give you readers the low down on what the next update will be all about: getting back on track and taking a look at IDW’s IT! Terror From Beyond Space.  So until then, read a comic, watch a movie/TV or play a video game and stay nerdy.

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