From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Sleepstalker

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

Sleepstalker 1

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

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

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Sleepstalker  (1995)

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

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

Sleepstalker 7

I have been a comic book reader and a horror film watcher for as long as I can remember, and besides garage sales, Big Bear and the antique stores in town, I always got my comics from Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and never in my quests for comics did I know that Malibu Comics released a comic based on Sleepstalker.  I did not learn about this comic until 2016 thanks to Lone Star Comics who had it in stock and made this update possible. That’s one thing I love about the world of comics and horror films there are so many of them out in the world have yet to be read and watched by me, and I love to discover issues like this as I am a fan of comics based on horror films. But slumber is calling and these sheep are not going to count themselves and these logs will not saw alone so The Sandman is demanding that I tell you that I grade this issue on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready to see if this comic that acts as a set up to the film holds any thrills or chills, I know I am ready!

Sleepstalker Sandman’s Last Rites

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

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

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

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

Zombies From Hell logo

Marvel At The Dead Of Night

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  Can you believe that we are just a short time away from Halloween? Something about this time of year just fills me with creative plans, and so far, I have planned many great new episodes of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre as well as many great ideas for future comics to be released by Sparkle Comics and it’s sister company Blood Scream Comics. For this 5th update in our Countdown to Halloween, we will be going old school with Marvel Comics as we take a look at a comic series they released in the 70’s that reprinted classic horror and science fiction stories that were originally banned after the Comic Code witch hunt.  I will also talk about a Horror Movie Marathon that my gal Juliet and I had; plus the most scary thing we will talk about is the Comic Code itself! So open the windows and let a chill in as we travel to the Dead of Night!

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On June 27th – 28th Juliet and I decided to have a Horror Movie Marathon, and for the pre-show we decided to eat a little dinner and watch two horror motion pictures to set up the mood for the next day.  We selected “Silent Night Bloody Night” to start with, a creepy Christmas themed horror film that plays on the whodunit. We then watched a 2015 slasher film called “Kill Game” about a white masked killer stalking and killing some young adults who used to pull pranks, and as always one went wrong and someone was killed. Both films were solid and a great way to start off our marathon, and both Juliet and I selected Silent Night Bloody Night as the best film of the night as it was a nice blend of horror and thriller and was shot well with scenes looking like they were lifted from German Expressionist films of the 1920’s. Plus the film starred John Carradine, who is mute in his role and rings a bell or writes on paper to communicate with others, strange and amazing. After reading a Marvel Tales issue and watching The Rifleman on ME-TV, I headed to bed to start a day of horror and scares.

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On the 28th we woke up at 7am to start the marathon and loaded up on Ruffle Regular Potato Chips, Peanut M&M’s, for brunch we had breakfast casserole and for dinner home made chicken wings with the “Oh My Garlic” sauce. The fist movie of the day was a Universal Monster classic called “Man Made Monster” that starred Lon Chaney Jr. as a man who becomes a living breathing electric chair after an experiment goes wrong. The 2nd undead feature starred Bela Lugosi and was called “Voodoo Man” and was about a doctors rituals to try and bring his dead wife back to life that leaves many women missing and turned into mindless slaves. The third film was “The Body Beneath” a weird almost retelling of the Dracula story vampire film directed by Andy Milligan.  The world’s first basher film “Methodic” was the fourth film about a super natural serial killer who wants to kill his sisters. The found footage film “Hangman” was about a killer who watches and stalks families in their own home while living in their attics and watching them from hidden cameras.  The sixth film of the day was the Fullmoon Entertainment film “Ooga Booga” about a little doll that gets the spirit of a wrongfully killed man who wants revenge inside it. “Hellbilly” a short film about a killer who wears a skin mask and kills any person he runs into was the seventh film of the marathon.  I should also note it was directed by Massimiliano Cerchi. Vampire flick “Dracula’s Widow” was the eighth film and was about Dracula’s Bride being on a rampage when she finds out her husband has been killed and wants to return home and uses a Wax Musem owner as her slave to achieve her goals. Shot On Video film “Spine” was the ninth film and was about a twisted killer who targeted nurses as his victims. “666: The Demon Child” was the tenth film and followed a group of scientists being killed by a small demon baby who could bring on the end of the world. The 1980 splatter classic “Nightmare” scared up the eleventh spot and was about a killer with mental issues on the loose looking for some kills…or is he? The twelfth film was “The Redeemer” a film about a class reunion that has a murder loose who has the power of God on his side and an extra thumb! Unlucky number thirteen went to the heavy metal horror film “Shock’Em Dead” starring Traci Lords that follows a rock star who sold his soul to the devil in order to be the best in the world, but his wish has bad side effects as he has to kill in order to live! The time with Juliet was lots of fun and many of the movies were fantastic, but the weakest film, aka the Golden Turkey of the day, is one we both picked for the same reasons, Ooga Booga.  It was not funny and down right dumb and was too much about pot…just not good…besides the puppet for Ooga looked good. My top three films of the day are as follows: # 1 has to be The Reedemer, a great slasher film filled with a creepy killer who changes costumes for every kill and the run down school makes for a creepy background.  In fact on a fun note, the late great Andy Copp and myself talked about remaking or doing a sequel for the film many years back. # 2 goes to Nightmare, a great bloodbath slasher film with a killer who has some extreme mental issues and will not go down without a fight. # 3 was a hard one to pick but I settled on Dracula’s Widow as I am a sucker for the classic monsters, and I think the taking a bride of Dracula and placing her in more modern times made for a great horror film that took some great film tricks of German Expressionist films. I should also note that VooDoo Man almost made my # 3 spot as it’s a great Bela Lugosi film. Juliet’s top three go like this: # 1 Nightmare, # 2 The Reedemer and # 3 Hangman! Very close order for our top two, but her third surprised me but she really enjoyed the grim feeling of Hangman. The Horror Movie Marathons are always a great way to unwind and watch some horror films for the first time or even again after many years. But now it’s time for the spookiest part of our update the Comic Code…..a cold shiver just went down my spine.

Man Made Monster dvdVoodoo Man dvdThe Body Beneath dvdMethodic dvdHangman dvd
Ooga Booga dvdHellBilly dvdDraculas Widow DVDspine dvd666 demon child dvdnightmare dvdThe Redeemer dvdshock em dead dvd

Back in the 50’s comics based on horror, crime and thrillers were a popular cheap entertainment for kids as well as adults who enjoyed a good read. But all this was about to change thanks to Charles F. Murphy, a juvenile delinquent specialist plus author, and psychiatrist Fredric Wertham and his book Seduction of the Innocent that took a fight to the comic industry that went all the way to the Senate and put book companies like EC, Marvel and DC in the hot seat of making comics that were corrupting the youth in their judgmental eyes. You see, they claimed that comic books about subjects of horror, crime and thrillers were giving kids bad ideas that crime was cool and that murder was okay.  This of course was the raving of two sticks in the mud who wanted to ruin the joy of comics for kids. And worse, these two loons made it so parents as well as the government listened to their theories of comics causing crime.  So began the comic companies being put on trial as well as parents holding public burnings of comics all in the name of saving our children. Murphy and Wertham pitched a code that had to be met in order for comics to be made that they called The Comic Authority Code.  Each comic had to meet the rules that had been set that included such wonderfully stupid things like bad guys always had to lose, no werewolves, zombies or vampires, horror & terror could not be used in a comic series title, as well as many sexual acts like seduction, rape and sadism were forbidden, police could not be killed by bad guys.  This was just the tip of the iceberg of the rules they set! If a comic company did not follow these rules, retails shops would stop carrying issues from that company so they all had to put the Comic Authority Code Stamp on the cover to prove they met the code. Marvel, DC, Charlton, Archie and many others fell in line and followed the rules.  Marvel even canceled many of its horror titles to fit the newly placed guidelines. The company was the most affected by this code was EC Comics who were making titles like Vault Of Horror, Tales From The Crypt and Crime SuspenStories; they tried to fight it but lost the battle and even closed up shop due to the lack of support from retailers and fans. The Comic Authority Code ruled the comic world for decades with their strict rules and at one point even attacked writer Marv Wolfman’s last name as it was against their rules. DC Comics had to fight the case and add full credits to their titles. The odd part about this code is that they had no real power over the companies and could not enforce any kind of fine or punishment.  But all retailers would not stock a comic that did not support the code so they won out anyway.  Oddly enough Gold Key and Dell never did embrace the code and were still well stocked. By the 70’s, the Code was outdated and needed to update, and it did as monsters were allowed to be back in comics as were drugs because at the time they could use the comics to teach kids that drug addiction was bad. The Code stuck around for many years but by the 2000’s most companies stopped placing the stamp on covers.  Archie was the last hold out but also discontinued using it in 2011. The Comic Authority Code was a terrible modern day witch hunt that riled up parents, government officials, religious groups and retailers all over the theories of two out of touch old men who just wanted to say that only their voice mattered. But while The Comic Authority Code did lots of bad for the world of comics in my opinion as it kept horror titles at bay, it also helped build the independent comic industry, who grew from their strangle hold to give comic readers an alternative to check out that didn’t play by their strict rules. One things for sure, love it or hate it The Comic Authority Code is a large piece of comic book history, and its appearance shaped the comics that filled newsstands for years that followed its birth. To close this part, just imagine if this code was still around to this day and they never updated it.  I would guess that Marvel and DC both would be out of business and comics would not be as iconic as they are today.

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The Comic Authority Code – now that’s scary to think how loons can wield so much power! I think it’s time to get to our comic reviews, and I want to thank New Dimension Comics in Cranberry Pa, Ebay, Mavericks, Bell Book and Comic and The Peddlers Mall for having these issues in stock for this bone chilling haunted filled update.  Each of those fine places made it possible for me to find these spooky issues and share them with you like ghost stories around a campfire. So turn off all the lights, pull the covers over your shoulders and bask in the light of your computer screen as it’s time for your dose of spooky Marvel tales of terror on this dead of night.  While the moon is full and the jack o lanterns are lit, I should remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I think we should now take a long look into The Dead Of Night and hope the monsters of these rotten ink pages don’t look back at us!

Dead of Night 1

Dead Of Night # 1   ***1/2
Released in 1973     Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 1 of 11

“The Ghost Still Walks” a frat house prank went wrong years ago and left a pledge named Bub Lame dead after he had a heart attack in an abandoned house after seeing a fake zombie. Now a new batch of pledges are at the house, and they all know the Lane Curse that says his spirit will get into a body of someone in the house and will get revenge on the pledge master. Those who laugh at the curse soon find it’s real as one of them is the rotting corpse of Lane who wants his revenge. “House Of Fear!” Home investigator Charles Boyd and female reporter Jean are looking into a haunted house that’s up for sale.  Charles wants to prove it’s all fake so the house can be put up for sale, but while in the house they come across a ghost who attacks Charles, who now sees the house differently as he joins the six feet under club. “My Brother…The Ghoul” Hugo Luther is a man who digs up graves at the local cemetery and steals from the dead.  When he is seen by the night watchman, his identical brother is blamed for the crime and sentenced to death, but in the end the twins share more than just looks. “ I Want You To Meet My Brother Henry…He Dwells In A Dungeon” Jean is a new wife who married her husband George to get a piece of his new wealth that he was left from his uncle when he passed, but in the house she also meets Henry, his brother who is simple and deformed.  She hates Henry as she feels he is getting in the way of her master plan of driving her husband nuts and having him locked away in an asylum. Jean goes to the basement where Henry lives with a gun and fires a single shot into his room and hits a shadow. Upon returning to her room she soon finds out she killed the wrong brother.

This first issue is amazing, and if the rest of the series follows the lead of this one than this is shaping up to be a fantastic Marvel Horror Comic Series. To me it looks like all four stories in this issue are originals made just for this first issue and all of them pack an amazing creepy vide and capture the horror themes that were popular at the time. To choose the best story from this issue was very hard as they all reminded me of tales that would be seen on Tales From The Darkside or read in the pages of Tales From The Crypt or Vault Of Horror, but if I had to pick one I would say The Ghost Still Walks the opening story as I love his the story is told by a pledge who is scared yet laughs at the story of a curse, but he finds that in fact the curse is true and he is selected to be the messenger of the spirits revenge. This issue has no real weak stories as each tale of terror has it’s own charm and sinister appeal to it. The issue is packed with such ghouls and ghosts like a dead pledge ghost, a grave robbing ghoul, a deformed killer and a haunted house and each add a fright to their respective stories. The cover is great and very eye catching and this cover for this very issue is what made me select this series as this Halloween update! The art inside is also fantastic and this made for a fantastic read on this chilly fall night! I am looking forward to reading the next issues in this series and see if they hold up as well as this one that sets the bar very high and packs just enough cheesy horror to make for a solid spooky read. Over all I recommend this to any fan of classic horror comics.

Dead Of Night 2

Dead Of Night # 2  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 2 of 11

“He Walks With A Ghost” Barney Grill is a crook who gets his money mugging people on the mean streets, but his luck changes when we is visited by a lawyer who tells him a rich uncle has died and left him a mansion and lots of money in Hungry! Barney rushes to his new home and decides that the old family cemetery needs to be bug up and cleared away so he can add a pool and soon learns that they dead don’t like to be disturbed when they use his own tools against him. “The House That Fear Built” John and Mary live in a small house in the middle of the country when a new house is built over the next two nights, and even weirder strange lights are coming out the window so they decide to go visit and see who their neighbors are and soon find that they are aliens who are conducting an experiment to find out the weakness of mankind in order to take over our planet! It’s up to John and Mary to stop the next couple from coming over and in the house or we are all doomed! “The Nightmare” has a psychiatrist and his female patient during a visit telling him about her nightmare of living in a nice house with a loving husband and kids, you soon find out that she is an ugly witch and her psychiatrist is a skull face warlock and that to them nightmares or that of living a normal life. “The Girl Who Didn’t Exist!” Walford is a student of American Collage and he along with his fellow class mates under the teaching of Professor Haywood have found a statue of Claudia Caligara and for some reason Walford feels that she is calling to him, and over night he goes to visit the statue again and finds a tunnel to the past were he meets the real Claudia and fights an evil general to win he had in marriage! In the end Walford of 1973 is no more but now next to Claudia’s statue is one of him! Our final twisted tale is “The Frightened Man!” Franz Hyle is a dictator of a small country and he has run off the peoples only hope a man named Professor Rolfe, but things are not all sunshine for Hyle as he is visited by a green haired man who tells him that enemies are among his most trusted people. After this green haired man opens up Hyle’s mind he hears and see’s his own people plotting to take him out of power and he in turns has them all arrested. In the end Hyle is all alone and soon finds out that his green haired friend is his worst enemy and must face his real enemies the people he rules over.

This second issue is packed full of some really cool old school style horror stories as well as some that feel like filler. I think my favorite story was He Walks With A Ghost the opening tale as I love the idea of a no good scummy worm of a man getting lots of money and land only to disrespect the dead and have them come back and teach him a lesson in manners. Plus this one really reminded me of a classic style ghost story that would have been found in an issue of Tales From The Crypt or Vault Of Horror. The story that was good and my second favorite was The Nightmare while it was the shortest of all the tales it had a Twilight Zone feel and I love the idea of normal everyday like being scary to monsters! My least favorite one had to be The Frightened Man! as it really was not scary nor really that shocking as to who was the man with green hair, in fact this as well as The Girl Who Didn’t Exist should not have been in a Marvel Horror Comic and should have found a place in a Science Fiction series as no monsters, aliens or ghosts were in these stories and they felt like filler. So for those wondering this issue’s monsters and mayhem that appear are Zombies, Aliens, Witch, Warlock and Time Travel. The artwork in all the stories are top notch and fitting for this style of comic, and the cover while miss leading on so many levels (the main picture has zero to do with any of the stories and it claims to have four tales of terror when there are five) still has a great 70’s Marvel Horror Comic charm to it. Over all this was a fun issue and a nice follow up to the first so lets see what the next issue has in store for us.

Dead Of Night 3

Dead Of Night # 3  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 3 of 11

“The Hidden Graveyard” three hunters are following a dying elephant so that they can find the graveyard these beasts go to die in, they don’t care about finding it for study or science they just want the ivory! They were all warned by the natives of a meat eating beast named Kubba that makes home in the graveyard and kills what every trespasses on this land, but they think it all to be stories of myth. When finding the graveyard they soon find the myth is true and each must come face to face with the hairy meat-eating beast if they want the ivory. “Waitin’ For Satan” Mathews is a down on his luck bum who hangs out at the docks when he makes a deal with Satan to become rich and win the woman of his dreams, the pack also comes with a way for Mathews to escape being dragged to Hell that is if Satan comes to soon for him the agreement is broken, and after years of building up money and marrying his dream woman Mathews tricks Satan and gets out of the deal or so he thinks, by living a life the way he does a ticket to Hell just might be in his future. “While The City Slumbers!” an old man during a card game with his son and his friends tells a story of when he was twenty about a clan of pale skinned people named Mole Men who lived underground and wanted to over take the city for revenge for how their ancestors were treated many decades back. But on the Day they are about to attack an Earthquake happens forcing them to flee back underground and their cave was blocked sealing them in forever. No one believes the old man but in the end he has the proof a stone they gave him for safe passage during the would have been raid. The final story is “Only A Rose!” Helen is a jealous wife and when her husband Chester keeps leaving home late at night and she can’t get him to answer why she decides to follow him and watches as he delivers flowers to young women, she in a rage decides to get revenge and sends poisoned candy to the women killing them. After many nights of this and many deaths of young women she soon finds her husband was only working as a delivery guy and was not cheating as he was using the money to buy her stuff for her birthday! Worse he brings her flowers, candy and a watch and after eating the candy she finds out that the candy was returned and was the last box of poisoned ones she sent out…so in the end she dies the way she made others.

This third issue is really good and better than the second as I felt all four stories were top notch and had a good horror story appeal to them. I love the flow and vibe of this issue as it’s very down beat and only one story has a happy ending as that’s the mole men not taking over the town, but on the other hand people think the old mans crazy and the town is hot by an earthquake and massive fires so I guess it is pretty gloomy. My favorite from this issue has to be Only A Rose as I love how one woman’s insecurities leads to the death of many younger and prettier girls cause she could not trust her husband who in fact was a really good guy working as a delivery man to make extra money to but her something nice for her birthday. In the end she gets her date with death by her own hands and feels the same pain her victims did and has that classic EC Comic style ending! One that I enjoyed was Waitin’ For Satan as I loved the idea of a con man trying to pull one over on Satan who tells him while I cant take you to hell now the way you lived your life already gave you a one way ticket and I’ll be seeing you soon! Great stuff and proves you should never make a deal with the devil. My least favorite is really hard to pick cause I really enjoyed them all but if I had to say one being the weakest one I would pick While The City Slumbers while it had the feel of dread the Mole Men really never did anything to terrible and run away from the fire only to be sealed into their cave forever, while a good story not to scary. The cover is once more great but miss leading as slime people are not in the comic nor does anything come from the sewers. The art is great again and is what horror comics at this time and before were made of. For those keeping score the monsters and themes of this issue are Big ape like beast, underground pale skin men, the devil and a female killer who uses poison. So this is another great issue in this series and well worth the honors of being on a Halloween update, so lets move onto issue four and see what full moon fury we can get into.

Dead Of Night 4

Dead Of Night # 4  ***
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 4 of 11

“Werewolf Beware” Hugo is a man with a curse that turns him into a werewolf every full moon and worse he has fallen in love Erika a lovely towns girl. Things are going great till the next moon when Hugo must leave Erika behind after an argument and she follows as he tries to fight the urge to change, in the end love and a wooden stake to the gut ends the curse once and for all. “The Death Of Me!” Joe is a man who notices that when he looks into a mirror for a brief second he catches the face of a man who looks like him but his face is always twisted with hate! The man tricks the man in the mirror and captures it talking to the mirror version of his wife about killing Joe and his wife Betty off so that they can live, Joe goes around the house smashing the mirrors and is taken to an asylum were he soon finds out mirrors are not the only things that give off reelections. “We Meet At Midnight!” Hugo is a disfigured man who has grown up to a world that treats him poorly for the way he looks and now he hates everyone and everything besides books and finding the secrets of Egypt via the Sphinx. Hugo travels to Egypt and soon learns that the true secrets of the Egyptians is preservation of dead bodies via making them Mummies! The final terrifying tale is “ Worse Than Death!” George is a slumlord that only cares about money that he keeps in his home as he loves to just look at it whose apartments are fire hazards and one day a fire breaks out and kills hundreds, in the end a husband of one of the victims takes all of Georges money and flings it out the window driving the greedy man insane.

This fourth issue is really good and three out of the four stories are fantastic and they type I would hope for in a Horror Comic series done by Marvel. Each story is different and are about monsters, greed and supernatural beings and all I am sure sent shivers down the spines of readers of the early 1970’s. My favorite story in this issue is The Death of Me as I truly loved the idea of your refection being a being from another dimension who wants you dead so that it can live fully, makes you want to look a little closer at your mirrors next time you walk past them or use them to do your hair and brush your teeth. Werewolf Beware was almost the winner, as I do love a good tale about a lycanthrope that’s ending reminded me of a Paul Naschy werewolf film, not to mention Don Heck did the artwork. The weakest story has to be Worse Than Death as I feel that it was a good story it really was not scary and had zero elements of horror. The issues baddies include a werewolf, greed, the Sphinx and mirror spirits, it’s a great mix and gives the pick your chill/scare factor to this issue. The cover on this issue has to be my second favorite in the series as the werewolf looks fantastic and ties into the opening story. Over all this is a sold issue and one that proves this series has some bite to it and proves that classic reprint comics can be done if they are done right. Lets see how the next issue of Dead Of Night holds up on this Halloween update!

Dead Of Night 5

Dead Of Night # 5  **
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 5 of 11

“Deep Down” a man is walking when strange men began popping up from the ground and asking him for help and if he can help them they will make him rich! When the man goes down the tunnels with them he finds a giant gold nugget and they tell him they cant remove the nugget cause it blocks the entrance to a cave that houses a lizard dragon monster they call Dragila who will become loose and kill them all. You see all the men down in this hole are not ghouls or zombies but they are all men who are greedy and want a way to get the nugget away safe, the man spends some time thinking about how to get away safe with the gold but he comes to terms that it’s not worth it and walks away as does the 50 other men who wasted their lives waiting for this gold. “The Worst Thirst” Pete and Joe are brothers who live on a farm and their well has ran dry thanks to new neighbors who dug their well to deep stealing all the water. They now have to buy water from a trucker who brings it in from the city and this makes them very mad! So they decide that at night they will use pipes to steal the water back and in the process even kill a man to get their water back, and when they do they are so happy as the water flows high and they drink and bathe in the water. In the end the truck diver shows up and they tell him they don’t need the water but the neighbors will and the driver informs them that the well water has been poisoned and anyone who drank from it will die in two hours! “The 13th Floor” Mr. Creel owns a building and when he gets visited by ghouls wanting to rent out the 13th floor of his building he is confused as he don’t have a 13th floor but rents it to them anyway. After a the lease is up and wondering were the ghouls go he gets to see the 13th floor but his happiness to make more money turns to terror as he learns that floor only exists for ghouls. The last story is “One Must Die!” Doctor Zorg runs a zoo were he experiments on animals and how they will kill their mate in order to survive, his wife Millie is in love with Jim a helper of her husband and they have a plan to kill him via a bomb under his bed. But Zorg catches the two and dugs them and grafts their body together and in order to escape the approaching hungry wild animals they must figure out a way to get suppurated even if that means killing the other!

This issue is pretty weak and does not offer the chills and terrors of the past ones delivered. In fact I think almost all the stories in this issue are very weak and have a filler vibe to them. The best by a landslide story is The Worst Thirst as I like the feel of a backwoods brothers killing to get water something we all need and when they think they have won the really just killed themselves by drinking deadly poisoned water. The one that was ok and this is even a stretch to pick is One Must Die as I love the idea of two love birds turning on each other like wild animals to survive, and nice touch that the only way they can come apart after being fused together is a sharp giant ax. The worst is hands down Deep Down a clearly horror comedy type idea that’s pay out is that they wasted their lives over gold that they can never get, yeah not scary nor chilling just lame. The cover is based on Deep Down and shows ghouls coming from the ground and what we get is something very lame, the art once more inside is fantastic and is just like all the others very well done. This issue had a pretty good rotten ink smell and this helped add to the dead in the water feel of the issue. Over all so far this is the weakest issue in the series and I cant wait to see if the next issue pulls this series out of the grave this one placed it in. Oh yeah the monsters in this issue are greedy miners, poisoned water, a lizard dragon thing, ghouls and hungry animals.

Dead Of Night 6

Dead Of Night # 6  **1/2
Released in 1974   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 6 of 11

“Jack The Ripper” is about a graveyard that is haunted by the spirit of Jack The Ripper that kills anyone who dares to look for his gravestone, an American who thinks its all a hoax travels to England to find the grave to prove it all fake finds out that Jack The Ripper’s ghost still has a knife to sharpen on human bone! “Down In The Cellar” old man Judson is a taxidermist who loves birds and when a hunter keeps bringing him in ones he shot the old man begs him to stop and to hunt big game, Judson begs him to check out his collection of stuffed big game that he has in his cellar and the man just laughs it off and brings in more birds for him to stuff! Finally the Hunter realizes he has gone to far by killing a bag of peacocks and takes the old man up on seeing his collection of big game that turns out to be stuffed bird hunters! “The Snowman” two mountain climbers in the Himalayas find the footprints of the Abominable Snowman and the go of to track the beast, but the would be fame has them turn on each other and they soon find out that man and his greed is the only true monster of the mountain. The last story is called “Sarah” and is about Sarah a woman who collects old artifacts and decides that if the old farmer wont sell her his sword of Benedict Arnold than she will steal it, and when she thinks she has been caught her only choice is to turn herself in!

This issue is packed with three good stories and one that’s more like a telling of a joke with a silly ending, but with that said I can say this is another good issue and almost a three star rated one at that! One funny thing before I go to far into this review that I have to point out is that according to Stan Lee who wrote the opening story Jack The Ripper was found, killed and buried and his real name was Jack The Ripper…classic comic book stuff and this made my night seeing this. The best story in this issue is Down in The Cellar another story that reminded me of Tales From The Crypt and had an ending I seen a mile away but still loved the pay off of a crazed old man who hunts bird hunters! The Jack The Ripper is a good story and shows that even after death the killer stalks and murders those who cross his path in the way of being a knife-wielding ghost! The weakest story is Sarah as its more of a joke story of a woman who thinks she’s been caught stealing by an art dealer and turns herself into the cops only to find out the man she thought had caught her cant speak English and was just a lost traveler. The Snowman is a fun story that only shows the footprints of the legendary monster and the two feuding men turn out to be the real monsters as one goes so crazy he wonders around the snow barefooted after killing his one time friend. The issues evildoers are The Ghost of Jack The Ripper, A Human Hunting Old Man and Human Greed, and the art inside is great as is the cover even if Jack The Ripper is shown on the streets and in the story he never leaves the graveyard. Well lets move onto issue # 7 and see if the quality of this horror series maintains the level of perfect reading of the Halloween season!

Dead of Night 7

Dead Of Night # 7  **1/2
Released in 1974    Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 7 of 11

“Corpse In The Streets” Arnold is a doctor who reanimates a corpse of a killer in order to turn him into a zombie that will kill for him as he is trying to raise money for a high end coat for his wife, the zombie kills his patients and Arnold robs the bodies and even sells off their cloths to make extra cash. In the end the zombie turns on his master when he falls in love himself with the doctors wife! “The 13th Floor” Hugh and his wife Mary are both sick and Hugh is working day and night to save money so they can move away to a place that rains less and the air is dry. In the office he gets on the elevator and gets off on the 13th floor and is puzzled as the building only has 12 floors and soon finds out the that floor is death and talks his way back to life only to have to live without his wife who dies that night, and they were trying to take him early so he could be with her! “Man Lost” Al is a jealous man of his brother Greg who has invented a time machine and when he drugs his brother over dinner and tries to go back and fourth in time to win at the horse races, but he should of listened as he becomes a man that time forgot and is just a shell of himself that no one can see nor hear! The last story is “Deluge!” Jason is a man who thinks the world works due to magnetism and is mocked and fired from his job, he later builds a machine that controls magnetism and this puts the world is chaos as he controls the very world and dies trying to stop what he started as the machine will not turn off!

This issue has some good stories and it has some real stinkers causing it to be a pretty standard issue that don’t pack any major frights but does have some good ghost story/campfire tales appeal. The best story in this issue is a tie between Corpse In The Streets and The 13th Floor as both were fantastic tales and each had their own charm. I like the zombie slave who falls in love with his masters wife in the first story and enjoyed the man who loved his wife so much that Death himself tries to rig time for him to pass the same time she does! The worst story hands down was the final story Deluge as it was boring and really cheesy and had no place in a comic about Horror, the only thing this story has going to it was that Steve Ditko did the art. The comics ghouls and horrors are a killer zombie, a world changing machine, a time machine and an elevator that leads to the Grim Reaper. The cover and art in this issue are both very well done and I really like the Grim Reaper on the cover who reminds me of the old Monster in My Pocket figure of that character. Over all this issue has two great stories, one that is pretty good and one that is just plan terrible! Worth a read and still is perfect for this late night Halloween update!

Dead Of Night 8

Dead Of Night # 8  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 8 of 11

“Alone In The Dark” Donald is a 10 year old boy who is left alone with his Uncle Claude who spends his time reading the youngster horrible fairy tales filled with death, you see Claude hates his brother and wife and wants to kill Donald and then them on this night! And at the stroke of midnight knife in hand Claude is about to make the kill but who is really the killer and who is the victim in this twisted tale of family issues. “The Eavesdropper!” Tony is at a bar when he over hears a plan between a man and a woman to kill her husband that night and collect the insurance money. Tony decides to follow them instead on calling the police so he can blackmail them and get a piece of the money, but he soon finds out that the attended victim might just be to close to home for his liking. “The Old Witch” George is a simple man who’s wife Helen has a heart of gold and feeds local stray pets as well as homeless people and gives them a place to stay in their home. Matilda is a old woman that she has brought home and George has a bad feeling about her and the first night catches her performing black magic in their guest room! George gets a wooden stake and while the old woman sleeps he drives it through her heart and buries the old woman out back, but to his shock his wife and neighbors call the police and he soon finds he killed his true love as a witch’s tricks are very sly. “The Slave!” Joe killed a man during a bar fight and fled before the cops could catch him, while on the run he falls ill and a poor villager takes him in and nurses him back to health were he finds that the small towns cemetery is filled with gold and jewels, and when the villagers suspect him of stealing he dresses as a slave for a man who has died and soon finds the not just riches are buried with the dead!

This is another good issue that is packed with four solid stories that are sure to chill the blood of old school horror comic fans. The issue has many horror characters showcased like an old witch, a killer and even a child werewolf showing this one was a true grab bag of monsters. The best tale in this issue is The Slave as I really liked the idea of a sleazy man who is so greedy he would steal from the dead of the people who helped him when he was near death, gets what he deserves when he is trapped in a tomb were he rots away slowly dying from starvation. The worse twisted tale is really hard to pick as none of them in this issue are bad at all! So I guess I will say the most predictable one is The Old Witch as the twist of the souls of the women changing place and the husband killing the wrong woman is something I seen a mile away. Over all this is a solid spine tingling issue that shows that old reprints can pack a punch for a new generation of ghoul kids.

Dead Of Night 9

Dead Of Night # 9  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 9 of 11

“The Empty Bus” it’s a dark and stormy night and when a bus stops to pick up Nick he is the only passenger on the bus or so he thinks, an old man appears out of thin air and sits with Nick who pulls a gun and the old man tells him a story of a night just like this about a man with a gun and murder in his eyes who dies when he tries to kill a man who use to run crimes with him, Nick does not listen and he in fact turns the story into reality. “Sazzik, The Sorcerer” Boris Grumm is a TV Producer who’s shows are so twisted that the station drops them with the help of multiple complaints, so to get even he comes up with another show based on a cruel black magic sorcerer named Sazzik! In then end Boris comes face to face with the spirit of Sazzik and he isn’t happy. “They Melt At Night!” Jeremy Miller is a scientist that people mock so to get revenge he makes a formula that melts peoples cars, his idea is to sell them the cure to make the cars no longer melt and make a ton of money, but soon finds that greed is not the answer to life and in turn has a change of heart. The final tale is “The Sudden Storm” hurricane Tessie is in full effect and the rain and winds are causing so much damage, a group of guys try and save an old couple who own a petting zoo but they refuse to leave, as the water raises we soon find out that the zoo is an arch and the owners are Noah and his wife!

This ninth issue in this series of mostly reprinted horror and thriller stores is well done but it’s clear they were running out of ideas for true horror inspired stories. The best story in the issue is the opening one The Empty Bus as it truly has a Twilight Zone feel to it and I love the message of a spirit trying to warn a troubled man not to try and kill cause it will back fire and he himself will be the one dead. My least favorite and really has no spooky nor horror elements to it at all is the last story The Sudden Storm as the pay out is a tie in to the Bible. The cover of the issue is fantastic and I love how the Grim Reaper is playing chicken with a bus, but sadly a bus is in one of the stories but this version of The Grim Reaper is not. The art inside is well done and just like all the others holds a classic horror comic look as they were originally done when horror comics sold well for companies. The monster run down in this issue is this an Old Man who could maybe be The Grim Reaper, a Hurricane, a formula the melts cars and an evil The Sorcerer. Over all an average issue with nothing that makes it to scary nor a stand out in the series.

Dead Of Nigh 10

Dead Of Night # 10  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 10 of 11

“I Dream Of Doom” a man is tormented by a monster in his dream and goes to a doctor for help as he fears if he sleeps the monster will get him! The doctor tricks him and gives him a sleeping pill and when he sleeps he meets the monster again who is not what he seems nor is the man…dreams are a key to the universe and this opens those doors wide. “I Wore The Mask Of Drothor!” is about a mask maker named Markas who is running out of ideas for masks and his sales are slipping, that is till he decides to make a mask based on a black magic cultist named Drothor who was so ugly that if anyone captured his image a curse was placed on them, the mask is so good he decides to wear it and rob a mansion but soon finds out the curse is real as his looks will now forever be that of Drothor. The last story is “I Was Face To Face With The Forbidden Robot!” Ralph is a man who wants to get fame and fortune in order to give his wife a better life and decides to reanimate a robot and set it free to capture it as robots are banned in society as they are viewed as threats to mankind. Ralph tracks the robot and has a terrible battle with it in abandon castle that leaves the robot at deaths door but before it dies it saves the life of Ralph as the castle catches on fire. In the end Ralph tells the truth about the robot being a hero and the world allows robots back into society.

This issue is pretty good and is filled with horror and science fiction and is pure marvel horror comic goodness. And the monsters in the issue are a dream machine giant purple monster, a black magic curse and I guess a robot. My favorite story is I Wore The Mask Of Drothor a great mean spirited tale about a mask maker who laughs off a curse and in Twilight Zone fashion has the curse strike and make him as ugly as the mask he made. The good one is I Dream Of Doom as I like the idea of a man being scared to sleep as it reminds me of A Nightmare On Elm Street and I like that the idea of him being wrong about the monster who is not there to hurt him but take him back to his dimension were he is a king! The weakest story as I will not say it’s bad is I Was Face To Face With The Forbidden Robot as I feel that once more while it’s a good story it feels more like one that should have been apart of EC Comics series Weird Science and it has a happy ending as Ralph gets the respect of his wife, changes the laws against robots and even will get the robot who saved him as a reword. Good story just kind of out of place and by no means a horror story. The cover is great and as always miss leading as the monster attacking a roller coaster is not in the comic and makes that scene that does happen in the opening story in a small dream sequence look way more bad ass than it is. The art as always is great and to sum it up this is a good issue. Well sadly we only have one issue left and this Halloween update will be coming to an end so I hope your not to scared as we take a look at issue 11.

Dead Of Night 11

Dead Of Night # 11  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25     Marvel Comics     # 11 of 11

“The Sinister Scarecrow” Two goat masked members of a cult called Cult Of Kalumai break into an auction house to steal a painting of a sinister Scarecrow but they soon learn that The Scarecrow from the painting can come alive and kills them. We cut to the auction and The Scarecrow painting is up for sale and it’s a bidding war between Jess Duncan who is there with his girlfriend Harmony and his brother Dave who is a writer for a magazine against a creepy sleazy rich man named Gregor Rovik. Jess wins the painting and this puts Gregor into a rage who claims that painting will be his one way or another. Jess gets the painting home and as he talks with Dave and Harmony talk about it the Cult Of Kalumai bust in and knock out Jess and Dave and kidnap Harmony as a sacrifice to their dark master who’s image in under that of the Scarecrow in the painting! The leader of the cult is Gregor and just as he is about to kill Harmony The Scarecrow goes to life and kills all his cult members and chases him out into the yard were he had the near by trees come alive and crush him to death! In the end Jess comes to the side of Harmony and they relize that the painting is powerful and the key to fighting pure evil is in the hands of The Scarecrow.

This is the first issue of Dead of Night that does away with the multiple stories and focuses on one story that was made just for this series. The plot is about a cult who needs a painting and a human sacrifice to bring back their evil dark master, but they are blocked by a protector who is a Scarecrow that is painted over their masters portrait. The Scarecrow is a laughing killing machine who gets joy in killing the cult members and by all accounts is kind of an anti-hero. His powers are that he can control crows as well as trees and have them attack his enemies and evil-doers. The Cult Of Kalumai are terrible people who as well kill and steal and don’t feel bad for what they do, their only goal is to bring their Dark Master back to our world. Jess Duncan is a man who loves odd art and seems to want to figure out the mystery of the Scarecrow painting and has wanted to own that painting most of his life. Dave Duncan his brother is more interested in helping his brother so that he can write a story for his magazine about it’s history. Harmony is a loving girlfriend who also can take care of herself and wants nothing more than to help her man on his quest for answers. The comic is pretty violent, and while blood is not shown, many people die brutally from gunshots to necks being broken showing that Marvel Horror titles wanted to push the comic code as far as they could. While I like The Scarecrow, I like the issues with the multiple stories better, and it was clear as glass that Dead Of Night was going to become a full fledged Scarecrow series with this issue as they tried so hard to make the character iconic like their other horror characters. But sadly, this issue was to be the final as The Scarecrow was brought in as a new original story to try and help the poor sales Dead Of Night that was not a major hit with reprints only. The cover is well done and captures what the story is about, and the art inside, done by Rico Rival, is fantastic and makes The Scarecrow spooky and the Cultist sinister looking. It’s sad to think that Dead Of Night only lasted 11 issues and that even if it had continued, many of the issues that followed would just been about the adventures of The Scarecrow, if not all of them. Over all Dead of Night is a fun series that brought terror and horror to Marvel readers in the 70’s and earned its place alongside other horror titles like Werewolf By Night, Tombs of Dracula, Man-Thing and Monster of Frankenstein. While none of them reached the creepy nature of the first issue, the rest of the series had more hits than misses making for a top notch update for our Halloween showcase. Below is some artwork for the series that features the Kubba monster from issue 3, the werewolf from issue 4, and last is The Scarecrow from issue 11.

Dead of Night Art 1Dead Of Night Art 2Dead Of Night Art 3

Dead Of Night is a fantastic little series from Marvel, and I was happy that I was able to get them all and share with you on this Halloween countdown update! For the longest time I collected Marvel Horror titles like Tomb of Dracula, Supernatural Thrillers, Werewolf By Night to name a few and looked past the chills that a comic series like Dead of Night had to offer, but when I first found some issues in Cranberry, PA and read them I was hooked and knew I had to get the series and see what horrors it offered. I hope you are having a fun October filled with tricks, treats, parties and loved ones, and I hope your costumes will – and have – made people shriek with fright.  So until we meet again, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two, support your local Horror Host and have a chilling good night! Oh yeah, you’re wondering what our next countdown update is about – well let me tell you, it’s from the bakery of horror as we take a look at The Gingerdead Man!

The Gingerdead Man Logo

DC’s Second Greatest Detective

Hey gang! This update is going to be a smaller one, and I am going to take a look at DC Comics’ run of Sherlock Holmes that started in 1975 and lasted one whole issue.  Yeah, believe it or not the series sadly lasted one issue, making me wonder if DC only had room for one master detective spot, and Batman was their choice. But more than likely, it was a rights issue or just very poor sales for issue one that kept this from becoming an ongoing series like planned. But before we go to the comic review, let’s talk a little about Sherlock Holmes and his impact on culture.  So we have to start at the beginning with the stories for books (4 total) and magazines short stories (56 official). In 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a fictitious detective by the name of Sherlock Holmes for Beeton’s Christmas Annual for the short “A Study in Scarlett,” and the story was so popular that he was asked to write more stories based around this character.  He did so with glee until he grew sick of the character and wanted to move on, but the fans and publishers wouldn’t allow him so he continued unwillingly, even at one point killing off Holmes in the short story “The Adventure Of The Final Problem,” only to bring him back by fan request. But even after the books and short stories, Sherlock Holmes would gain even more fans with films and shows!

sherlock-holmes200px-Sherlock_Holmes_Portrait_Paget3_the-hound-of-the-baskervilles

The first Sherlock Holmes movie was made in 1916 and stared William Gillette as Holmes and Edward Fielding as Watson.  Many more would follow in the 20’s and had such actors as John Barrymore, Clive Brook and Eille Norwood playing Holmes. But Holmes’ true movie break started in 1939 when actor Basil Rathbone stepped into the role as the great detective for 20th Century Fox and made “The Hounds Of Baskerville” and “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”  Both films were hits at the time, and from there Universal picked up the series and made a total of 12 films that included “Dressed To Kill”, “The Spider Woman”, “Terror By Night” and “Sherlock Holmes and The Voice of Terror”. Sadly in 1946 the Rathbone era of films ended, and many other films based around Holmes would pop up that included Hammer Horror’s “Hound of Baskerville” starring Peter Cushing as Holmes in 1959.  “The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes” had Robert Stephens in the roll and had him searching for the Loch Ness Monster in 1970.  Nicholas Rowe played a teenage Sherlock Holmes in 1985’s “Young Sherlock Holmes”, and most recently Robert Downey Jr. played Holmes in 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes” and then again in 2011 in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows”, and these are only a few films that were made about the iconic character.

DVD CoverYoung_sherlock_holmessherlock-holmes-movie1

Sherlock Holmes has also been a TV draw and has had numerous live action shows and even cartoons. Most of these series are on England’s BBC, who brought us other great shows like The Young Ones, Monty Pythons Flying Circus, Dr. Who, The Mighty Boosh and horror host show Dr. Terror Presents to name a few. The most recent BBC Holmes inspired show is called simply “Sherlock” and started in 2010 and is on its third season that starts in 2013. In September 2012, CBS began a new show called “Elementary” where the Holmes legend is set in modern times, and one time Charlie Angel Lucy Liu plays Watson. Not to mention in 1999 on Fox Kids, the animated show “Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century” aired for two seasons. Showing that Holmes is not only a box office hit but also a boob tube hit! 

AnimatedBBC SherlockElementary-TVseries

Not only has Sherlock Holmes conquered books, movies and TV, he has also stepped into the world of video games and has made a nice little mark in that digital entertainment. While there are way too many to talk about, Holmes has had games on so many systems that include Commodore 64, PC, Sega CD, Turbografx 16, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360 and PS3. While some are text based adventures and point and click games, others have you fighting Jack The Ripper and clearing your name of murder. The newest Holmes game out via Atlus for PS3 and 360 is called “The Testament of Sherlock Holmes” and has been meet with some good reviews. Who knows what future systems await a Holmes game and only time will tell when he will pop up next on our home consoles to solve a crime or two.

Sherlock_Holmes Sega CDSherlock vs The Ripper PCSherlock PS3

But wait, Holmes has also been made into a comic book hero many times from different companies like Dell, Classics Illustrated, Dynamite, IDW, Blue Water, Moonstone and so many more.  While none of his comic series had a full long run lasting more then 23 issues, he still remains a draw and has had comics based on him as late as 2012 from Blue Water comics in a series called “Sherlock Holmes Victorian Knights” that as of now is still running and with its fourth issue out soon. While he has not become a top seller in comics, Holmes remains a popular character and even has teamed up with Batman once!

classicsDELLsherlock Bluewater

One other thing I should talk about is the 1986 film “The Great Mouse Detective” by Disney that had a detective mouse named Basil, who also happens to live on Baker Street (in the same house as Sherlock Holmes) and takes the case of trying to find a missing little mouse girl who has been kidnapped by a bat.  The cool thing about this film is when you hear Sherlock Holmes speak in the film, it’s actor Basil Rathbone’s voice that was taken from his classic Holmes films.  Not to mention horror film icon Vincent Price voiced the film’s lead bad guy.  This film, like everything else animated Disney touches, was a hit and sparked all types of merchandise from stuffed dolls to a video game.  Growing up I found this film a fun little throwback that had a simple plot and a very likeable lead character.  If you have not seen it check it out for sure. 

the-great-mouse-detectivetheGreatMouseDetectiveGreat Mouse C64

Before we get into the review, there are a few other things I would like to talk about.  The first is the closing of Hostess, the company who gave us not only Wonder Bread but also Twinkies, Ding Dongs and HoHo’s.  Wonder Bread began making bread in 1921 and became a favorite of kids as they used the likes of Howdy Doody and other TV stars to promote the surgery white bread. But the company was mostly known for their snack cakes made popular by mascots like Twinkie The Kid and others like Fruit Pie The Magician, Captain Cupcake, King Ding Dong, Happy Ho Ho, Chief Big Wheels and Chauncey Choco-dile. It was a sad day when 2012 marked the end of a company that made its mark so deeply in American culture, and not to mention the fact that thousands of people are now out of work as the planets are all now closed. Times had been hard on the company, who mismanaged money and could not keep up with the health food trend that is sweeping America, and when workers went on strike over pay decreases this was the final nail in the coffin of the struggling company. I know someone will come in and buy the brands from Hostess, but it just won’t be the same, R.I.P. Twinkie The Kid and company, you and your sweet snack cakes will be missed. 

Hostess Icons

I do have a funny story about a Hostess product aimed at people my age when we were kids: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pies, a crispy pie crust with a very sugary pudding center and green icing on the crust.  Sounds great right..right? They were terrible, but I found myself asking for them at grocery store Big Bear because they gave away stickers inside the package and I had to collect them all.  So I would get my mom to buy me one, and I would force myself to eat this terrible snack enjoying the crust more than the terrible pudding death that waited for me inside. At some point I know I came close to getting that sticker set and packed away many of the Turtle Pies.  So I feel good that I did my part back then to help Hostess stay alive. I know many people did enjoy the Turtle Pies, but I for one was not a fan…but as I said I did sill eat them.

turtle pudding pies

Another cool thing about Wonder Bread was the free giveaways and mailaways.  You could get cards from football stars to DC comic heros to even Warner Brothers cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny. One of the best things they ever offered was Wun-Dar, a brown haired version of He-Man for the Masters of the Universe toy line, who was a mail away and has become one of the most collected figures in the line.  Not to mention that he is so popular that Mattel made an updated version of the character for their order direct Masters Toy Line. Companies just don’t do these kind of cool promotions anymore leaving this generation of kids having to do with out the excitement of the “giveaway”  But then again, kids in this day and age are glued to their over priced Apple products so I am sure a free toy is nothing to them.  Man, I just sounded like a grumpy old man!

Superman Cardwonderbreadwun_dar

It’s funny like everything that disappears, Twinkies have now become a collectors’ item as people have snatched up stores’ stock to sell them high on Ebay and Amazon.  Only in America would some one pay $80.00 for three boxes of Twinkies online. But enough of this depressing stuff of people loosing their jobs, the death of Twinkie The Kid and friends, nasty pudding turtle pies and the lack of giveaways. Let’s just look at this blonde girl eating a twinkie, a hottie and sexy singer Katy Perry eating ice cream.

Twinkie The BlondeSnack Food QueenKATY-PERRY

Two updates ago, I told you about the first no budget movie that I was apart of with Fairmont Productions called Teen Suicide and its sequel Suicide 2.  While we were wrapping up Suicide 2, I began working on another project with my brother called “Twisted Batman Theatre” and Brass Bros was open for business.  My older brother Bryan was in college at the time, and I was just a year fresh out of High School in 1999.  He was taking a Shakespeare class at Sinclair Community College, and for one of his projects he decided to make a video.  So he wrote this script that combined the 1960’s Batman TV show starring Adam West with the works of Shakespeare and had the idea to make the film stop motion by using his Super Powers Batman and Robin and would add Billy Dee Williams as the guest detective (a Star Wars Power of The Force Lando Figure).  The team would have to solve the cases of Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth. The script was funny and filled with pop culture references, Shakespeare quotes and one liners, and my brother also took the time to make sets for the figures that almost looked like early silent German horror films meets Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. He borrowed our grandparents’ VHS camcorder and hired me as the camera man and to do a few of the voices needed.  We set up the “sets” in the basement and began the long process of making the film. How we pulled off the stop motion was we would hit pause while recording and move the figure where we wanted and then un-pause it, and we would do this as quick as possible all the while he would be doing the voice overs as we filmed.  This process made tempers fly, and I can’t count how many times I quit or got fired from this production, only to come back for more.  Even though it was a pain, I still enjoyed working on this film a lot.  Not only did I get to make another film but I got to help my brother make his vision come to life. The filming took a few days and many hours to complete, my brother hand wrote all the credits, did his best INXS Mediate video impersonation and then edited the film on two VCR’s. The best thing about the film was he also used many of the Batman rogues like the Super Power figures of The Joker and Penguin, the Toy Biz versions of The Riddler and Mr. Freeze, The Batman Returns Catwoman and The Animated Series Bane and gave them a plan that was lifted from an old Cracked Magazine. I had a blast on this film and got to voice Paul Stanley of Kiss (Kiss was used to portray the Witches from Macbeth) and do the laugh for The Joker, and would do it again in a heartbeat. 

Twisted Batman DVD

Twisted Batman Theatre played to his class, got a great response and earned him a good grade for the project. It did so well that he was asked if they could show it on monitors in Sinclair’s then soon to be reopened media department.  Bryan of course okay’d it but was never sure if they played it. After that the film sat and collected dust for a short time until we decided to open Independent B Movie, and Twisted Batman was snatched up by us and was released on VHS at conventions we attended.  It sold pretty well to people who remembered and loved Kenner’s Super Powers toy line and not to mention to Batman fans. Years later the film had a very short DVD run, but was recalled when the disc was found to have a flaw in one of the extras. Brass Bros was going to work on a sequel to Twisted Batman in the early 2000’s but it never came about.  I had even planned sequel I was going to direct in 2007, but that never came about either. Bryan would go on to make a short film called Nightmare (that we will talk about shortly) and then had a film he started called “The Kenny Rogers Project” in which he mixed horror and humor into a film about Country Music Star Kenny Rogers alongside George W. Bush and rocker Ted Nugent who were killing people and making people sick with roasted chicken. The film had many faces in it that would become main stay actors for years to come including Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Garrison Kane and Jason Gilmore, but sadly was canceled midway through filming. Bryan would also try his hand at making a public access show years later with “Josh Vs.” a show that had my friend Josh Weinberg challenging celebs at horror convention to dumb contests like arm wrestling and push-ups. He filmed one episode where Josh had a staring contest against Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses), but lost faith in the project after the first episode footage went “missing,” and David Hess of Last House on The Left let him down on episode two. While it’s quiet now who knows what lies in the future for Brass Bro.’s Studio. 

Holy Brass BrosJoker HAHAHA

Sometime in late 2001/ early 2002 my brother took a class at Sinclair alongside Josh Weinberg that was being taught by local filmmaker Andy Copp, and one of the class projects was to make a short film.  He made another mostly stop motion film called “Nightmare” that followed an old man on his deathbed that sees visions of a bloody eyed baby doll, a ventriloquist dummy with a cracked face, a hooded masked wearing demon, death himself and a woman who holds a heart. The film was shot in my bedroom at the time, and while I did some camera my brother shot this one mostly himself.  In fact, the only live person in the film was a girl named Carley Owens who was in Bryan’s class and worked at Blockbuster Video down the road from the one I worked at. A scene was shot and never used in which I played the hooded demon who jumped up from his rocking chair and pointed a gun at the old man’s head.  Sadly that footage is lost forever. Like Twisted Batman Theatre, Nightmare found a home with Independent B Movie and was released on VHS and sold fairly well. The short film was also a extra on the short printed Twisted Batman DVD. 

Nightmare VHS

But now onto the DC comic of Sherlock Holmes! Remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. This review was made possible by Mavericks Cards and Comics.

Sherlock Holmes 1

Sherlock Holmes   ***1/2

Released in 1975    Cover Price .25    DC Comics   #1 of 1

Sherlock Holmes has been targeted and escapes an attempt to snuff out if life as he walks down the road.  Even at home on Barker Street another chap makes an attempt at ending his snooping ways. So he and Watson decide to get out of the country for awhile to avoid the murder attempts so they head to a snowy mountain region, and while on a snow covered mountain the man behind the attempts shows his face.  Both he and Holmes struggle atop the mountain, and both are believed to have fallen to their deaths during the struggle. Holmes knew his attacker would be there and even sends Watson away on a task before the fight. Watson returns home, and a man is gunned down in the streets with a firearm that makes no sound.  As he is looking into the murder, he is visited by a homeless man who turns out to be Sherlock Holmes alive and well and looking to help crack this case of the silent gun murder.  Once more using his brain, he is able to set the killer up using a stuffed doll of himself showing why he is considered one of the best detectives in the world. So I am sure you’re wondering he survived the fall.  To that I will say, I don’t want to spoil it all for you.

This could be one of the best Sherlock Holmes comics I have ever read and follows the classic story well, adding just a little more spice to make it appeal to fans of Batman, Dick Tracy and other hip detectives. Sherlock Holmes has only the slightest trace of the cocky attitude that he has in most of the books, making him more likeable. The chemistry that he has with Watson in this issue is top notch and again goes back to the way Batman and Robin interact and even the way Dick Tracy and Sam Catchem work together. The art style is really good and has the DC of the 70’s look. It’s strange to start your first issue off with what looks like the death of the title character, but it also works really well as it hypes you up to see just how you will survive his fall. This issue also delivers on his return, and it’s great to see the master detective dressed as a homeless man to set up a assassin who is trying to kill him if he in fact did not die in the attack. The art is top notch DC work, and the cover is eye catching and very cool  It’s a shame this is the only issue in this series as I really would have looked forward to reading them for this blog. Also, below this is a cool picture of Batman and Sherlock Holmes showing both of DC’s greatest detectives.

Holmes and Batman

The City of Chicago needed a master detective on November 22nd 1987 during a Dr. Who marathon when the broadcast signal of PBS Channel 11 was highjacked by a strange man in a Max Headroom mask.  The pirate broadcast sound was muffled as the man yelled, groaned and said all types of odd things from new Coke slogans to even humming the theme from the cartoon Clutch Cargo. The broadcast ended with his bare ass bent over with the rubber mask to the side of the camera as a person smacked him with a flyswatter. The broadcast only lasted a total of 90 seconds before the signal was cut by the pirate. This was really his second attempt at this as earlier in the night he made a small broadcast during the news on WGN Channel 9. To this day no one has been able to identify who this man was and why he did what he did.  I for one enjoyed his odd antics that I was able to see thanks to my brother Bryan and our friend Andy Copp, who had the incident on a VHS tape. The Max Headroom Pirate has never stuck again, and no one is sure if he ever will, but one thing is for sure he is still out there waiting and watching the airwaves of Chicago. I am sure that if Sherlock Holmes was a real person, he would have found out who this broadcast pirate was.

pirate

Speaking of pirate broadcasts, the other famous one happened a year before in 1986 when a man named John MacDougall going by the code named Captain Midnight was upset by the treatment satellite dish owners were getting from movie channels like HBO who were charging fees to watch.  So he hacked into their feed and placed a simple text message that ran for about 4 1/2 minutes that said “Good evening HBO From Captain Midnight $12.95/Month? No Way! [Showtime/Movie Channel Beware!].”  His message was clear, and he wanted HBO to see that the fees just were not right. But unlike the Max Headroom Pirate John was caught and forced to pay a high fine and be on a year of probation. Captain Midnight

In 1977, the United Kingdom also had a strange pirate broadcast that only affected the audio of a TV Station from an “Alien” named Vrillon who said he was a representative for the Ashtar Galactic Command and wanted to tell us Earth people that we need to get rid of our evil weapons and to live in peace and be ready for our evolution as a race. The message went on for about four minutes before he left our world. Many think this was a hoax, and the British government passed it off as one but those who heard the distorted voice think it might of really been a message from an alien from beyond the stars. Much like Max Headroom this pirate never was caught. Below is an image of what Vrillon is thought to look like.

Vrillon

Wow, this update took us from Sherlock Holmes to Hostess closing to Twisted Batman and ended with pirate broadcasts! My next update is something I spoke about in my look at the AniMax issues from Star Comics, and that’s a list of my top 10 Cartoons, Toy Lines, TV Shows or Celebrities that should have been made into a comic for Star, if they would have lasted that long and or could have nabbed the rights to do so. I will also be joined by some guests who will share their top 5, so until then, stay young at heart my friends. 

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